What’s infill development?

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Infill development repurposes unused real estate in cities and towns, often involving new construction or modifying existing structures. It revitalizes areas and can include creating parks, converting warehouses to living spaces, and changing zoning laws.

Also known as urban infill development, infill development is a strategy used to repurpose real estate within a city or town that no longer serves any real purpose. The process of this type of development effort can include new construction on vacant lots, redeveloping declining areas for new purposes, or even modifying existing structures so they can serve a new purpose. Infill development is often part of an overall urban renewal strategy, designed to revitalize areas of the city that have decayed and are no longer considered desirable for a particular purpose.

The most common example of infill development usually involves vacant lots or parcels of land. While these lots may have once housed some type of structure, those buildings are no longer present. In order to make the area usable again, the planners identify a intended use for the vacant lot and proceed with the realization of this purpose. For example, a vacant lot can become the site of a new facility or even be turned into a parking lot that helps alleviate a parking problem that prevents consumers from shopping at nearby retail stores.

Another example of an infill in inner-city areas is the conversion of a vacant lot into a neighborhood park or recreational facility. This approach can often provide local residents with activities in their own neighborhoods that weren’t available in the past and lead to an increase in civic pride. Over time, the presence of the park or recreation center leads to other improvements to the surrounding neighborhood, making the area more attractive to people looking for a new place to live.

In some cases, infill development focuses on reusing older structures that are still in relatively good shape. A popular approach today is to take old warehouses that are no longer in use and convert the structures to accommodate condos or apartment lofts. Some projects require the creation of commercial space on the lower floor, reserving the upper floors for living space. This particular approach is useful when attempting to revitalize a downtown area near a waterfront, and can often serve as an anchor to encourage people who work in the city to make downtown their home.

The infill development process often means changing zoning laws and how they apply to a given area. This means that once thriving sections that were only for commercial use may need to be redeveloped to allow the buildings to be converted into usable and attractive living space. At the same time, residential areas that have declined significantly may need to be reclassified in order to build commercial facilities in the area and possibly restore some degree or prosperity to the area.

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