Land Use

Building Better Places

Charting a Better Path Forward

Most local leaders know that the ways we’ve grown in the past aren’t working. They deal with the real costs of sprawl. It’s inefficient and expensive to serve, creates weak economies, and diminishes the authenticity of our communities. Yet the growth we’ve been getting is not just a reflection of market demand. Rather, its the result of antiquated land use policies, state and federal transportation investments, lending requirements, and more. To enable better growth, we need better policies, more strategic investments, and new ways of thinking about land use and development.

There is a better path forward. Indeed, one of the most basic things we can do to grow smarter is to simply look back to the types and patterns of development that shaped our traditional towns and neighborhoods. These places, built before modern zoning and car-oriented infrastructure, offer a template for shaping great neighborhoods and healthy downtowns that create lasting value.

Further, a growing number of developers and investors—recognizing the demand for places that are better connected, more walkable, and truly authentic—are delivering innovative projects that optimize a community’s place-based assets and respond to local needs. And, communities are crafting plans and policies to make it easier to build quality development in strategic areas. This includes infill and redevelopment within existing parts of the community, as well as more efficient development at the community’s edge.

How We Help

We’re working with communities and forward-thinking developers to make it easier to build quality projects in smart locations, with a focus on three critical areas of opportunity:

Growing in, rather than spreading out, is the most fiscally responsible and environmentally sustainable way to grow. It also responds to an increasing demand for vibrant, walkable neighborhoods. Yet in most communities, outdated policies and investments make infill and redevelopment difficult, if not impossible, to build. We help local partners address the specific opportunities and barriers to reinvesting in their community in ways that breathe new life into buildings, neighborhoods, and districts—and shape a more livable community.

We work with communities and forward-thinking developers that are working to build more livable places by reinvesting in them and helping enable good projects in good places. Together, we’re breathing new life into buildings, neighborhoods, and districts, and doing so in ways that benefit the people and businesses that live there.

In many communities, properties needing reinvestment sit idle because of real or perceived environmental contamination. We work with communities, developers, property owners, and other stakeholders to enable the clean-up and redevelopment of contaminated properties so local partners can create a healthier environment while enabling new investment.

In many communities—particularly those that are short on areas for new or redevelopment—efforts to encourage infill and redevelopment will need to be balanced with ongoing pressure to grow at the edge. It’s a common struggle—communities succeed in revitalizing core areas, but continue to sprawl at the edge. We’re developing tools, training, and assistance to help communities develop a sound planning and policy framework for growing smarter, even at the edge.