I met with two friends the other day and, with our mutual interest in city planning, the topic quickly turned to the great development potential for the Georgia Mountains Center area. Indeed, there is big potential.
One key premise of new urbanism (aka, smart growth) — along with access to groceries, restaurants, short commutes, priority for bicycles over cars, walkable neighborhoods, etc. — is the idea of mixed housing: a range of types, sizes and prices in closer proximity (www.newurbanism.org).
That vision seemed to be missed on the writer of the Times article, who implied that any new housing around the Mountains Center should be for graduate students only, serving as a sort of dormitory. Alternatively, planners emphasize mixed housing because it benefits people at many life stages, such as:
Retirees who may not want to be dependent on cars but still want community.
Newlyweds who don’t want to have to drive their young children to other playmates, ballparks, doctors, stadiums, etc.
Employees of the city, county or other downtown institutions who don’t want to commute from Cumming.
Indeed, Brenau graduate students would also fit right in this mixed housing concept, especially international students with limited transportation options.
The article assumed a limited vision of possibilities and seemed unaware of new urbanism examples (such as Sea Side, Florida, or Atlantic Station in Atlanta). I admit, the new urbanism lingo is off-putting (e.g., densification, revitalization, etc.). But a little research could bring big benefits to Gainesville.