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Smart Growth

Placemaking: Creating the Product

In Placemaking: Creating the Product (2007), Victor Dover of Dover, Kohl & Partners Town Planning discusses how things that make smart growth neighborhoods smart also make them desirable — and command a premium from homebuyers eager for the benefits of living in such a community.

To create an attractive product that meets consumers' needs, developers and builders must understand the design elements of a smart growth neighborhood and how those elements create the features that one-third of homebuyers say they want.

  • Smart growth neighborhoods begin with great streets  wide enough to allow for appropriate traffic circulation, narrow enough to allow safe, convenient interaction among neighbors, and interconnected so that people have choices for getting from one point to another.
  • Homes are oriented to the street, garages are in the back, and the public realm  the streets, sidewalks, pocket parks, and other portions of a neighborhood that are shared by the community  is designed and built so that new construction enhances the overall community.
  • Smart growth projects have a mix of uses so those residents have places to walk to and not just through.
  • Smart growth communities also have a range of home types, which not only provides additional choices to the consumer but allows the homebuilder and developer to be more responsive to the market through project phasing.

The paper concludes with a summary of the benefits homebuyers look for when buying in smart growth neighborhoods. Placemaking means including the design characteristics that allow homeowners to realize these benefits  a key point for high-production builders and developers. Good design and placemaking create the product, and this paper succinctly describes the elements that distinguish smart growth neighborhoods from conventional subdivisions.

This paper was produced as part of Smart Growth: The Business Opportunity for Developers and Production Builders, a series of papers that present a "business case for smart growth" to help builders and developers considering whether to pursue smart growth projects.

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