By DAVID PENDERED wew.ajc.com
The effort in North Fulton to shape future developments into places that are easier to walk around is in line with trends urban planners are discussing at a national convention in Las Vegas.
Suburbs across the country are trying to shake off development patterns that required a car trip to get to work, school or a store, said Dena Belzer, an urban economist, after speaking Monday at the American Planning Association's convention.
The old patterns worked when most people who lived in the suburbs were concerned mainly with good public schools for their kids and easy access to the amenities of the central city, without the perceived downsides of urban living, Belzer said.
But demographic patterns are changing, she said. And a rising proportion of suburban residents want to be able to easily walk to their destinations or get there on a bus, Belzer said.
"Everybody agrees that households with children have particular things they're looking for —proximity to cultural amenities and good schools," Belzer said.
"But studies of the coming demographics, the baby boomers, show they want to live in more compact neighborhoods with access to transit," Belzer said. "Most of the opportunities, over time, to create those kinds of communities will be in the suburbs, not the central city."
Belzer specializes in connecting growth trends with real estate development and local development regulations. She's a principal with Strategic Economics, in Berkeley, Ca.
Local leaders from Sandy Springs to Milton and Johns Creek are crafting plans to encourage future developments to be places where people can live, work and play without having to drive from one destination to the next. North Fulton today is filled with separate clusters of homes, shops and offices that are designed to be accessed mainly by a car.