Affordability in new urbanist development: Principle, practice, and strategy

  • Talen E
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This article investigates the question of social diversity by assessing affordability in New Urbanist developments. The article begins with a review of the principle of social mixing--specifically income mix--and how it is linked to physical planning and design. An assessment is made of the ways in which planning and design are enlisted in the effort to produce and support social mix, focusing especially on the goal of "affordability by design." The article next reviews the empirical record, and assesses whether there is evidence that New Urbanist developments are capable of accommodating income mix and promoting economic diversity. Data for 152 New Urbanist projects were obtained, and it was found that 23 out of 152 developments or 15% were affordable to someone making the Area Median Income. The evidence suggests that while design-based approaches to diversity in New Urbanism are within the realm of possibilities, the supply of developers willing to pursue a multi-pronged strategy composed of good location, creative financing, innovation, government support, and self-determination is necessarily limited. Finally, a framework is offered to help planners and New Urbanists conceptualize the problem of affordability in walkable neighborhoods and determine future courses of action.

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