- Land development approach merging distinct uses (commercial, residential, leisure) for greater density and diversity in a given geographical area
- May feature added public transit and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure
- Aims to boost physical activity for improved health and active transportation to decrease vehicle miles traveled
Evidence and impacts
Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps
- Potential for increased tax revenue per acre, more diverse and resilient tax base overall
- Improved health outcomes, largely stemming from higher levels of physical activity
- Reduced vehicle miles traveled, greenhouse gas emissions, transportation expenses, and travel time
- Greater independent mobility for non-drivers and elderly people to "age in place"
- Improved traffic safety
- Higher levels of integration and reduced geographic isolation of neighborhoods
Best practices in implementation
- Partner closely with local economic development agencies, housing authorities, businesses, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders to identify potential projects and sources of funding.
- Set clear, community-informed criteria and goals for any given development, including considerations for how a project will specifically benefit businesses, workers, and the community as a whole.
- Identify and evaluate existing local assets that may provide a competitive advantage in attracting new investments and supporting businesses, such as residents with unique skills; local architecture and infrastructure; academic, technical and medical institutions; and more.
- Prioritize development projects that strike a balance: the opportunity must be large enough to make a significant community impact, but small enough to make tangible, concrete improvements.
- Launch a community engagement initiative to help define the targeted development area, including soliciting feedback from existing residents and other affected stakeholders, as well as potential employers, employees, industry leaders, and more.
- Leverage both qualitative and quantitative data to inform a development strategy, including walkability audits, cultural inventories, public transit routes, and community needs/values surveys.
- Incorporate existing infrastructure and/or future infrastructure investment into mixed use development planning.
- Ensure proposed projects leverage urban and community design best practices that support desired health outcomes, such as creating a development compact enough to allow for substantial walkability.
County Health Rankings and Roadmaps evidence overview of mixed-use development "Selling Smart Growth: Communicating the direct benefits of more accessible, multi-modal locations to households, businesses and governments," Victoria Transport Policy Institute (2020) US Environmental Protection Agency: Smart Growth (2020) Smart Growth communities examples Smart Growth website Center for Active Design: "Via Verde"