Will Town Centers Save the Suburbs?
July 7, 2008 by jessebkaye
Since the baby boom of the 1950’s America has had a love affair with the suburbs. The dream of owning a 4 bedroom home with the white picket fence is so entrenched in the American lexicon that we refer to it as “The American Dream.”
Rising fuel cost, a housing boom that broke, and people demanding services has caused many young buyers to rethink The American Dream and consider moving into the city to satisfy their housing needs. Many urban planners in the ‘burbs’ recognize this and are prepared to do battle with urban living using the only tool they have… The Town Center.
Town centers offer the walking culture that many young buyers want; shopping, restaurants, entertainment and safety can all be found in the town center of many burbs surrounding DC. It is interesting to see where town centers work and where they don’t.
The Rockville Town Square is an interesting example of where the town center is not moving along as planned. When the center opened condos sprung up and restaurants moved in but people failed to show up. Slowly people are starting to show, but not at the volume that Rockville planned.
When town centers work they offer all the amenities of living in the city, while still living in the burbs. The problem is that town centers rarely offer employment options beyond retail. Many of the young professionals still have to work in the city even if they live in the burbs. Here in is the problem for many of the town centers. Work and play are still separate meaning that commuting cost remains. Hence young buyers apprehension to move out of the city.
There are plenty of examples where town centers work as a tool to anchor home buyers into an area. Do you know of any? What are some of the local town centers that you enjoy and would you consider moving somewhere because of the strong town center?