Today’s Metro West section of the Boston Globe offers up some lessons for the Austin Street development. While a lot of the protests focus on the perceived loss of parking and the negative impact that may have on businesses, little has been said about the overall benefit of moving a number of individuals into a city center-like environment. As for the benefits:
Homes in suburban subdivisions are still in high demand. But town centers are increasingly being seen as an attractive alternative by some, especially young professionals and empty nesters, developers say.
With local roads and highways becoming ever more clogged by traffic, one attraction is easy access to public transportation, said Marty Jones, chief executive of the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, which is working with communities to encourage new downtown housing.
The new multiple-unit projects being built in Natick, Waltham, and Wellesley are all within a short walk of commuter rail stations and bus lines.
During last week’s parking meeting I heard a lot of people get up and mention how long they’ve lived in Newton (and how long their families have been her). All that history is great, I love history. But we’re talking about the future of our city, not the past. We need places for our children to live, as well as our parents.
We are an inner-ring suburb and our businesses must compete with others in nearby cities. Take a look at Washington Square in Brookline, which has emerged as a key foodie destination, in large part because of its urban-like density even as it has an inner-ring suburban feel in the neighborhoods just off of Beacon Street.
We have a similar infrastructure here and we can have thriving downtown areas built on foot traffic that attract more than just banks. We just need to want it.