The smart growth movement, also known as “New Urbanism”, is at the forefront of 21st-century city planning, but its ideas are not new. In fact, smart growth is rooted in a deeply traditional way of thinking about community. It takes its inspiration from Old World and Early American cities and towns built during a time when communities were deeply interconnected.
Here in Vermont, we prize our small towns, with their beautiful town greens and locally-owned downtown stores and post offices. Recently, however, even Vermonters have succumbed to the lure of modern, automobile-centered developments and strip malls. The results have been fragmented use patterns, a dramatic increase in traffic congestion, and struggling downtown economies.
Winooski Falls downtown revitalization is a major step in rejecting sprawl, reclaiming our town centers, and celebrating our traditional Vermont way of life.
Smart growth development is based on the following principles:
By implementing these the principles of smart growth design, Winooski will realize important benefits in six major areas: housing, transportation, economics, health and safety, environment, and community quality of life.
One of the major goals of the Winooski Falls neighborhood is to provide an appropriate mix of housing options within easy commuting distance of downtown Burlington and major employers throughout northwestern Vermont. In addition to Keen's Crossing market-rate apartments and The Cascasdes luxury condominiums, the project incorporates 108 units of affordable housing for working families at Keen's Crossing. The housing provided by the Winooski Falls redevelopment will contribute significantly to alleviating the chronic housing shortage in Chittenden County.
A network of safe pedestrian streets and lanes, combined with an expanded rapid transit system with frequent connections to Fletcher Allen hospital, UVM, and downtown Burlington, will reduce traffic congestion in the area. A central parking garage will provide convenient parking for residents, workers, and visitors who do come by car.
During the heyday of the textile industry in Vermont, Winooski was a vibrant economic and residential community. However, like many downtowns in Vermont, the Winooski downtown area has struggled in recent years. The integration of commercial, retail, and residential properties in the Winooski Falls development will greatly improve the jobs-housing balance in the city. This will help reclaim Winooski’s traditional role as an independent economic center.
Winooski Falls’ mix of land uses makes economic sense in other ways as well. Studies indicate that real estate in mixed-use areas has a higher value. This will make property in Winooski Falls an excellent investment.
The integration of residential, retail, and commercial space in Winooski Falls will keep streets lively – and safe – at all hours of the day. Pedestrian-friendly street design and convenient public transit connections will make it safe for people to run errands and gets to work without using their cars. This saves gas and reduces traffic, noise, and air pollution. Also, on a personal level, it reduces stress and promotes healthful exercise.
Smart growth development makes the preservation of natural areas and working farmland a priority. Compact urban planning and building design leave room for park lands and create population densities high enough to support a viable public transportation network.
The more than 100 acres of open land that have been preserved near Winooski Falls will reduce air pollution and noise, control wind and erosion, moderate temperatures, and filter trash chemicals before they get into the water system. It will also contain a network of trails that will promote relaxation and encourage exercise.
Current development patterns often create enclaves. In contrast, smart growth development seeks to promote diversity through mixed-use neighborhoods with a variety of housing choices. In Winooski Falls, these choices will include loft and townhouse-style apartments and affordable housing at Keen's Crossing, university housing at Spinner Place and luxury condos at the Cascades.
In Winooski Falls, shops, offices, and restaurants will be located within an easy and safe walk, providing independence to those who cannot drive.
Parks and public spaces of all kinds will bring residents into regular interaction with one another, encouraging an authentic community with real human connections.
For more information about the principles and benefits of smart growth in Vermont and elsewhere, please visit our Links page.
Winooski Falls 25 Winooski Falls Way, Suite 105 Winooski, VT 05404 Phone: 802-655-3200 Fax: 802-655-3201