Development near transit stations is often compact and intense, but it offers another critical opportunity -- placemaking. Civic places and parks can give a transit-oriented neighborhood identity and fulfill an important need in compact, urban neighborhoods. It can also raise values all around. After residents in Silver Spring, Maryland, called for more open space, Montgomery County, Maryland, planners wrote guidelines. A developer of a 27-acre project a short distance from the Metro stop has followed through (see image above). The redevelopment of a suburban superblock was designed around a series of public spaces by Bing Thom Architects and Sasaki Associates. The public spaces will add to the distinct urban center of Downtown Silver Spring. Read the detailed report in the current print issue of Better! Cities & Towns.
In a few short years, 85 percent of residents in Somerville, Massachusetts, will be able to walk to rail transit — up from 15 percent today. The Somerville story, reported in detail in the March 2013 issue of Better! Cities & Towns, is an example of how a city is expanding transit-oriented housing — a need that is felt across the US. Placemaking is a key goal in this transit-oriented development — see the plan above for the Gilman Square station by Jeff Speck and Russell Preston, illustrated by David Carrico. Jobs and housing for educated professionals are shaping the future of Somerville and surrounding cities in the core of the Boston region. Maintaining affordable housing while creating walkable new urban centers is a goal that planners are addressing through policy initiatives. "Complete streets" also play a key role in the development and revitalization of these urban centers.