Market Trends: Form Based Planning – Mixed Use and Planned Communities
Most cities and communities in the United States happened for multiple reasons ranging from the coastline offering a protected harbor, convergence of rivers creating a trade center, the discovery of natural resources or settlers finding a beautiful setting at the base of a mountain range. Others were planned with a specific use in mind – Washington D.C. to house the center of Government or Seaside, Florida, a privately owned beachfront community.
Mixed Use and Planned Communities, are currently popular in the KC metro. Perhaps the earliest example of this was the Country Club Plaza. Today Zona Rosa, Town Center, Prairie Fire, Legends and Blue Hawk (now under construction) are all examples of a Mixed Use Community.
These Mixed Use Communities utilize Form- Based Zoning over Traditional Zoning. According to the (APA) American Planning Association, “Form-Based zoning requires build-to lines, specifically defining desired development patterns. Based on ideal urban forms, form based zoning makes certain that new development will be suitable to community existing character and vision.”
Mixed Use Communities offer its target audience a development where they can live, shop, eat, have all necessary amenities, be entertained and work within a defined ‘walker friendly’ area. The community offers housing (apartments, senior independent living, attached-housing, single family housing) retail shopping including big box stores, medical office buildings, urgent care, movie theaters, cultural centers, restaurants, offices and parks.
These communities driven by developers in cooperation with the city government is a boon to the local economy. It offers a defined area that is architecturally pleasing, draws affluent patron and tax revenue through housing, retail sales and corporate earnings.
Some areas in the Kansas City metro which once was ‘the place to be’ but had lost its luster like Metcalf Avenue north of I-435 in Overland Park, see this as a way of bringing affluent dwellers and consumers back in an organized and efficient manner.
In west Wyandotte County, once the Unified Government built a NASCAR and INDY Car race track in 2001, they used Form-Based planning in the middle of the prairie to create the Legends. The Legends offers shopping, hotels, housing and entertainment.
The success of the Legends and the race track spawned new development. The area now boast a minor league baseball park, a premier soccer stadium – home of the World Champion Sporting KC, hotels, casino, dwellings, water park and large office complexes housing Cerner and Dairy Farmers of America. Soon the area will also be home to the training center for the US National Soccer Team.
The initial vision, strategic planning and investment into a Mixed Use Community utilizing Form-Based Planning at the Legends solidly placed Wyandotte County, Kansas as a premier destination in the middle of America. It offers a case study of how this type of development can rapidly improve the community, its status and economy.