*Today is the first of a three-part series on what smart development is, what it isn’t, and the obstacles it faces. *
Let’s get it out of the way: despite being proponents of development, it is near-sighted to address every neighborhood project as beneficial for a community. If that were the case, this website would promote Greenwood retail development or herald construction of gray-scale OneAmerica garages as a success when that is certainly not the case.
Rather than totally regulating neighborhood development from top down, there must be a balance between the best interests of developers, residents, and planners to ensure that future construction projects help contribute rather than assist to diminish communities.
But what makes one development “good” and another “bad”?
This piece will explore several principles many urban planners have commenced to advocate over the past couple decades (as well as principles that have proved destructive) and apply these to recent projects in Indianapolis.
For the sake of brevity, I will underline, uppercase and embolden this next sentence. DESIGN AFFECTS BEHAVIOR.
It is imperative for communities to hold developers accountable to design standards in order to keep neighborhoods desirable, sustainable, and stimulating. Thankfully, there are several components to smart design that cities (even Indianapolis!) have begun to acknowledge and enact.
The first step is encouraging intelligently crafted, mixed-use development in neighborhoods- this is paramount to creating engaging urban environments.
Mixed-use implies an array of uses throughout the day (opposed to single-use suburban zoning) as business associates will naturally mingle with citizens that reside there and both these groups will organically interact with the patrons of businesses. It has been well-observed that this interaction between people of various socioeconomic backgrounds is conducive to the incubation of new ideas, hence why cities throughout history have proved instrumental in mankind’s progress. That being said, mixed-use development is a huge step in creating vivacious neighborhoods. The next step is creating mixed-uses that are desirable to invest in, look at, and interact with on a human level.
Here is a peek at just a few smart-design components that communities can and should demand, helping developers attain profits by ensuring built places people demand while simultaneously creating interesting, engaging urban communities.
Communities should demand activating uses on the first floor and continuous storefront windows!
Communities should demand facade interruption to provide inspiring and architecturally appealing streetwalls!
Communities should demand limited setbacks!
Communities should demand diminished/hidden parking!
As stated before, these are just a few of the demands communities can request of developers to ensure a healthy, vibrant community and create places people want to be -a scenario beneficial to everyone involved. These are not demands to discourage growth and should not be distorted as NIMBYism -collectively, they are nothing less than having enough respect for our communities in order to make them the best, most vibrant and stimulating urban environments they can be.
As always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.
Later tonight, we will have the fourth article in the Mass Ave series.