Suburbs Become the New Cities

Small towns like Carmel, Indiana have gained national prominence after redeveloping into "cities where people can live, work and play," writes Haya El Nassar.

"It's a trend emerging in an increasing number of commuter suburbs," observes Nassar, "from Texas and Colorado to Alabama, continuing to blur the lines between urban and suburban." The former bedroom community of Carmel, Indiana is a prime example of this new type of hybrid community with its "cosmopolitan flair unusual in suburbia." Having "forged a national reputation because of its embrace of the arts, European-style street design and urban housing," Money magazine ranked Carmel the No. 1 best place to live this year, reports Nassar.

"These small but growing towns are applying some of the most forward-thinking planning tenets to create true downtowns, art districts and new traffic patterns that alleviate congestion and encourage walking. They're changing zoning to build city-style condos and apartments above stores. And they're getting away from big parking lots and strip malls by putting parking underground and behind stores." Nassar notes, "Often, the downtowns are created around a new city hall, transit stations, arts center - or all three." Other notable small cities that have successfully undergone this smart growth transformation include Homewood, Alabama; West Jordan, Utah; Lakewood, Colorado; and Southlake, Texas.

Full Story: More small towns thinking big

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