Saturday, December 8, 2007

Fixing the Car-Dominant Suburbs...

...there's alot of debate whether suburbia can be fixed or if the time and energy required is better spent redeveloping those 193s0 and prior areas that were often planned before the Euclidean zoning virus struck in full force.

Well, suburban Atlanta is often a poster child for sprawl.

This story discusses how even some of those places are finding new life:
For more than two decades, Gwinnett County has been the quintessential bedroom community, home to far-flung cul-de-sac subdivisions full of starter home commuters who made their way downtown to Atlanta every day.

But the times, they are changing. Nowadays, going downtown may mean walking to the square in Lawrenceville or Norcross from a nearby townhome. Rather than boarded-up storefronts, those squares are now home to gourmet restaurants and a range of services homeowners once had to drive to a shopping mall for. As home buyers reconnect with the county's historic town centers, they join a trend happening all over metro Atlanta.

The "new urbanism" wave is remaking town centers all across the region. Norcross and Lawrenceville are good examples of how town squares now attract home buyers who want to be within walking distance of the restaurants they frequent, the dry cleaners they use, the grocery stores where they shop, even the places where they work. And they want to run into their neighbors in the process, get to know them, and join the fun of reclaiming small-town life.
Encouraging news, though to be fair, Norcross and Lawrenceville--while having their growth driven by sprawl--did have town centers prior to their car-enabled development explosion. The real tricky ones will be those 1960s and later places that were created without any discernible main street or town center.

I suspect that they are probably not worth using our limited quantities of oil and gas to fix.