Suburban sprawl, endless miles of strip malls interrupted by tracts of single-family homes, was once thought of as novel planning. Of course, that was before gas hit 50 cents a gallon and fewer people cared about the effects of pollution, according to The Atlantic.
But now, federal, state, and local governments have embraced "smart growth" planning principles that create walkable neighborhoods that do not require people to use their cars to get to local shops and mass transit. Instead of shunning density, governments are encouraging it so developers can revive their downtowns.
The result: A boost to the area's economy, a more environmentally sustainable community and a short walk to the dry cleaners. Smart growth reduces the combined cost of transportation and housing, which currently makes up more than 50 percent of the average household budget, according to Smart Growth America.
Because smart growth increases foot traffic in local downtowns, local shops thrive. In fact, retail stores on main streets with wide sidewalks in town centers or near transit stations make more money per square foot than stores located in other types of communities.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency says that the increasing demand for smart growth provides a significant opportunity for developers and builders. The agency adds that existing smart growth developments showed over the past 10 years that people are willing to pay a premium to live in a walkable community. This also shows prospective homebuyers the strength of their investment in a home in a smart growth neighborhood.
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