New town models sought as Metro Atlanta grows older
An interesting juxtaposition occurred at Thursday’s Atlanta Regional Commission board meeting.
First, new urbanism planner Andrés Duany briefed the board about the Lifelong Communities projects that his firm — DPZ — has been conducting in the Atlanta Region. The goal has been to design communities that work best for the region’s aging population.
And then, Mike Alexander, ARC research division chief, presented the latest regional snapshot showing that the metro area’s population will top 8.3 million people by 2040, roughly an additional 3 million residents.
But most strikingly will be the age of those residents. In 2005, 8 percent of the 20-county region’s population was 65 or older. By 2040, 20 percent of the population will be 65 or older.
As Alexander said, the region will shift from being a place with a relatively young population to one that’s much older with more than 1.5 million people who are 65 or older.
“The boomers are going to age early,” Alexander said.
Those figures just reinforced Duany’s message to the ARC board about how to create communities that are friendlier people who can no longer drive yet still want to be contributing members of a community.
“You are pioneering,” said Dauny, who added that it’s important for communities to measure the cost of services for suburban sprawl. He credited the Atlanta region for being on the forefront of trying to design the future of communities by addressing the needs of its aging residents.
Duany also expressed great confidence in the fact that much of future developments will be market driven — creating communities where people want to live.
“New urbanism was market driven,” Duany said. “People wanted this.”
The biggest challenge will be to create zoning and land-use codes that will permit the development of mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented communities.
“We’ve been asked to level the playing field so it becomes legal,” said Duany, adding that current codes “make suburban sprawl easy and walkable difficult.”
For more information or a copy of the final charrette report: “Lifelong Communities: A Regional Guide to Growth and Longevity,” click here.