Any professional at the top of their game will tell you that having a plan is crucial to success. A plan will prod you into action and give you a framework to follow. Alan Lakein, an expert on time management, once stated, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” It seems then that Raleigh has planned for success.
Raleigh has been busy building a remarkable resume over the last few years; with achievements such as: No. 1 city for jobs in the United States, No. 2 best metro area in the US in which to work at a small business, one of the Most Innovative Tech Hubs in the Nation, and most recently, No. 4 fastest growing city in the country. As Raleigh continues to thrive, we need to keep in mind another important aspect of planning- adapting and tweaking the plan as the needs of the city evolve.
In the past, Raleigh’s plan included low density, single-family development as the dominant land use- representing 34,000 acres or 34 percent of the city’s total land area. This type of use drives land consumption patterns in Raleigh and requires continued investment in road capacity and water and sewer infrastructure. By 2030, Raleigh is projected to grow by approximately 220,000 people. In order to accommodate this, not only will we need more residential communities to house the growing population, we will also need to expand infrastructure and add more schools, retail businesses, restaurants, hospitals, and public transportation.
Using those development patterns have caused us to stretch our land capacity to the maximum. Raleigh is running out of land to sprawl into, which means we need to shift our focus to new, more efficient development methods.
This is the part where dense, mixed-use development comes in to help out our plan. It allows for combinations of residential, commercial, retail, and dining options within neighborhoods. It lets people live closer to their jobs, grocery stores, and shopping options. Most Raleigh residents live in neighborhoods that are not walkable or bikeable due to the lack of connectivity. Mixed-use development will slowly work to change this.
This type of ‘people-centered’ planning yields economic, social, cultural, and environmental benefits. It leads to less traffic congestion and pollution due to reduced auto-dependency, and it also brings shared community space. Plazas, parks, and sidewalks help create more vibrant neighborhoods and invite interaction among community members.
Having a forward-looking sustainable development plan will help meet Raleigh’s needs without compromising on important issues. People are moving here at an explosive rate because Raleigh is a great place to live. Let’s plan to keep it that way.