As we’ve mentioned before, in order to support walkability, neighborhoods need to be complete, connected, and compact. So far in this series we have touched on making the neighborhood surrounding Dollar Tree Plaza (in Merritt Island) more complete by adding civic spaces, and more connected by creating a safe, inviting pedestrian realm. The next thing we want to look at is how to make this neighborhood more compact. We have a decent start in the existing neighborhood because not all of the residential within our 1/4 mile walking radius is single-family. We actually have some apartments!
In the neighborhoods adjacent to this, however, we really have an overabundance of single-story, single-family residential, so I’d say we can use some more multi-story buildings in our neighborhood center to help make up for that. Making our neighborhood center a little bit higher density than the rest of the neighborhood is also just a good idea because it will help focus activity.
The big parking lot in our shopping center gives us an opportunity to do just that. We can add some multi-story mixed-use buildings as perimeter buildings around the blocks we create in the parking lot. In the future, we can also plan to convert some of the existing single-story commercial into multi-story mixed-use.
How compact do we want this neighborhood to be in the future? Well, based on it’s context it should continue to serve surrounding neighborhoods as a village center. A rough guideline for village centers would be to plan for a minimum average net density of 15 mixed-use units per acre. This density is about the minimum required to create enough walking activity to support businesses.
We can achieve that density while varying the density in the neighborhood from lowest at the edges to highest around the center. Over time, adding some diverse housing and commercial buildings with some new civic spaces arranged in a quality fashion along with good walking connections will really make this neighborhood come alive and transform this ordinary strip mall into a wonderful, walkable place!