Previously in Tales of Two Cities, I’ve pointed out the Columbia Town Center does not exist in a vacuum. All around us communities are rethinking how they manage growth and looking for ways to maintain their individual identities. In this story by Katherine Shaver and Miranda S. Spivack in The Washington Post today the reporters examine both the successes and challenges of creating “walkable” communities.
“The nation's two largest groups -- baby boomers shedding their houses as they become empty nesters and millennials reaching their 30s and moving into their own homes -- largely prefer densely populated, walkable communities, experts say.
Urban planners project that 86 percent of the growth in new households will be single people or couples without children at home -- and neither group wants to live in remote suburbs or in houses surrounded by big lawns.”
The line between success and failure hinges on getting the formula right.
“Developers still must persuade people accustomed to driving to keep their cars parked, and town centers have to provide the right mix of retail, residential and office space to compete in a crowded marketplace.”
Do the plans for Columbia Town Center have the right mix?
Possibly. There is already a strong retail core with the Mall. The office sector is currently struggling but connecting the existing buildings more closely with residences and stores will help differentiate office space in Town Center from the more typical suburban office parks like Columbia Gateway.
The real question, in my mind is whether the proposed 5,500 housing units will be enough to insure that we get it right.