A Primer on Suburban Urbanism

How one master-planned development used lower-density urbanism principles to build a community focused on affordability, sustainability, and conservation.

2 minute read

July 6, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

View of docks on lake surrounded by green trees and lawns with one white house at right

New Waters Realty / The Waters

In a long read in Common Edge, Steve Mouzon defends the utility of lower-density zoning and New Urbanist principles that may be more appropriate in certain settings, including places already slated for sprawl, with existing sprawl, or growing small towns.

The best vehicle for implementing principles illustrated here at the scale of a neighborhood, hamlet, or village is not a major production builder, as these principles violate almost all of their conventional industrial practices. Instead, look to the record of stronger New Urbanist developers who are no strangers to doing things considered unconventional by the Industrial Development Complex in the interest of better places with stronger lifetime returns.

Mouzon outlines his four principles for accomplishing lower-density urbanism in suburban and small town settings. These include compact development that allows for preservation of open space, “listening to the land,” creating a range of housing values, and bringing in a mix of uses.

Mouzon uses the example of a community called the Waters, a project he worked on near Montgomery, Alabama, describing how conscious design decisions helped the development reduce needed infrastructure, conserve more open space and preserve the character of the site, create opportunities for social interaction through front-facing porches and walkable spaces, and raise property values. The article offers an in-depth and instructive look at how a from-scratch planned development can use design principles to limit sprawl and conserve open space.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023 in Common Edge

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