Infill Development vs Sprawl Development


By Dom Nozzi

June 26, 2003

“Infill development” is a form of development in which a vacant, undeveloped lot within the developed portion of the city is developed to contain housing, offices, retail, civic, or industrial. In other words, the lot is a “leftover” piece of property that was never developed as urbanization progressed outward.

By contrast, the opposite of “infill development” is “sprawl development” or “outlying sprawl-developmentdevelopment” — in other words, development that happens remotely from or at the periphery of the developed portion of the city. Note that “infill” can also include the REDEVELOPMENT of a property. In general, redevelopment infill uses more of the property than was used by the original development of the property.

Appropriately, infill has long been considered highly desirable by public planners, because it discourages costly sprawl, reduces travel distances, reduces car dependence, reduces household transportation expenditures, improves the quality of life of the community, improves the tax base of the community, often improves upon a property that may be experiencing crime problems or aesthetic problems, and reduces the development pressure faced by outlying, typically more environmentally important lands outside the city.

In general, infill has unfortunately been much more difficult for a developer to achieve than development in outlying areas. Usually, development in outlying areas means lower development costs, less opposition from citizens (particularly from those who live near the proposed development), less time needed for development, less need to worry about possible contamination that may be at the property due to past activities, and less need to mitigate “traffic problems.”



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Filed under Sprawl, Suburbia, Urban Design

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