A panel of experts speaking at a ULI Washington event said that thriving suburbs will continue to become more walkable and dense where appropriate, with fewer big-box stores surrounded by parking lots.
Larry Hentz is a business development specialist with the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation (EDC). He noted that the county has selected five areas around five Metro stops in the county to densify—a plan that has been in the works for years but one which seems to finally be moving forward. Hentz added that he is hoping to see more sidewalks and bike trails included in redevelopment plans, and that the county parks and planning agency is “committed to having walkable, sustainable communities.” He added that the EDC has gotten creative with incentives to encourage sustainable, walkable development.
For example, the county found that the multifamily buildings sprouting up around the five Metro stations were being filled by empty nesters, not millennials. This tracks with what trendwatchers are seeing nationally—said co-panelist Ellen Dunham-Jones, director of Georgia Tech’s master’s program in urban design. “Two-thirds of suburban households don’t have kids in them.” The EDC worked with the county to eliminate the county’s schools tax on new multifamily development in certain areas. The EDC has also made sure the county is an anchor tenant in multiple new office developments, like the renovated Iverson Mall, which was rebuilt to include 100,000 square feet (9,300 sq m) of office space (15,000 square feet [1,400 sq m] of which were taken up by the county’s workforce services office).
Read more at Urban Land Magazine.