As development gets pushed out to the fringe of towns, main streets and central neighborhoods are often left neglected. These abandoned storefronts and industrial buildings hold untapped economic potential, and smart growth strategies help towns capitalize on it. Reclaiming these properties is crucial for reviving flagging economies. Communities across the country are using smart growth strategies to reinvest in the urban waterfronts, local business districts and historic structures that make their neighborhoods great.

Smart growth strategies reuse already-developed land.
Vacant, abandoned properties and brownfields sites are often viewed as problems, but they’re also opportunities. Reclaiming and redeveloping these places can raise surrounding property values, create community amenities, bring in local tax revenues, attract residents and businesses, and strengthen regional economies.

Smart growth strategies repair existing infrastructure.
In many places, aging water or transportation infrastructure can make daily life inconvenient or even dangerous. In some cases, these systems have been neglected as regions focus resources on building new roads and pipes that support development on the outskirts of towns and cities instead. By rebuilding existing systems first, cities and towns can realize a number of benefits – less traffic, lower infrastructure spending, and healthier communities.

Smart growth strategies engage the community.
Neighborhood revitalization works best when community members have a say – what services they need (adequate grocery stores, more frequent bus routes), what areas need help (where crime rates are growing, or valuable historic assets need preserving), and what they can do to help (tending to a vacant lot next door, putting together a neighborhood watch group).