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From Wasted Space to Gathering Place

Featured Scenarios: Honolulu, HI

From Wasted Space to Gathering Place

A public gathering place where people can meet up, take a break or go for a stroll is an essential part of a community and a priority of smart growth. These images show how adding a public plaza to a desolate intersection in Honolulu establishes a newfound sense of place.

One-story warehouse buildings become mixed-use buildings, with stores on the ground floor and apartments, condos or offices on upper floors. A sleepy street with lagging businesses morphs into a tree-lined shopping destination with eye-catching storefronts.

Revitalizing and adding to an already-developed area, rather than growing outward and stripping away precious farmland and natural habitat, is a smart growth strategy known as "infill." Redeveloping existing neighborhoods also helps cut down on coastal water pollution -- a major concern for Hawaii -- by reducing the need for additional roads and paved areas. Impermeable asphalt surfaces woosh polluted water straight to the nearest lake, stream or shoreline instead of absorbing and filtering it.

Residents in the revamped area -- who can live or work (or both!) in apartments and offices above the shops -- save on gas, cut down on pollution and stay active by walking to stores and convenient services in their neighborhood. Scientific studies have shown that neighborhoods with mixed-use buildings help lower residents' risk of obesity and heart disease by promoting walking. They also reduce local air pollutants because residents don't have to depend on their cars to buy a gallon of milk.

This high-quality community, with an attractive gathering place and enough residents to support the businesses and local services, ensures long-lasting economic vitality and environmental health.

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