July 16, 2004

Smart Growth Makes (Dollars And) Cents

Framingham is definitely not a city, but one could argue its downtown is a bit more urban than surrounding areas (although still not quite like communities such as Boston, Cambridge and Somerville in terms of urbanization).

So, when a report says that revitalizing core urban centers also benefits surrounding suburban communities, it leads one to imagine that revitalizing downtown Framingham can help all areas of the town, not simply one section of the South Side.

"Suburbs also benefit from investment in healthy urban cores. Finally, studies suggest that to the extent these smarter development patterns foster equity in regions by improving center-city incomes and vitality, they will also enhance the economic well-being of the suburbs as well as the city. City income growth has been shown to increase suburban income, house prices, and population. Reduced city poverty rates have also been associated with metropolitan income growth."

That's from a report by the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy (available online in PDF format).

The report argues that smart-growth policies are good for the economy, reducing infrastructure costs by cutting down on sprawl. Those policies include:

1. Limiting outward expansion
2. Encouraging higher density development
3. Encouraging mixed-use zoning instead of segregating land uses
4. Reducing travel by private vehicles
5. Revitalizing older areas
6. Preserving open space

Of course, there are different ways to increase a neighborhood's income: helping existing low-income residents raise their standard of living is one way; gentrification so rising costs push out existing residents is another.

1 comment:

  1. Have enjoyed your artcles in paper. Would you be interested
    in joining EDIC?. We are passing off our concentration on
    downtown to FDR and looking for a few new projects. My pet is
    is the rundown mall on Franklin @ Mt Wayte.