According to Richard Dover, Knoxville developer, reasons for rehabilitating, reusing, and developing parcels in already developed areas are multiple. Towns and cities across the country are learning that this can lead to greater walkability, less infrastructure cost, and lower environmental impact. Infill, which is the idea of reusing or rehabilitating a building to fill a market need or developing underused parcels, helps create a more dense environment in an already developed area. This can lead to a greater sense of community, says Richard Dover of Knoxville. Uses run the gamut, most often focusing on housing, but also involving retail, offices and entertainment.
In pre-automobile America, people lived in dense neighborhoods that provided for most of their everyday needs. Things like grocery stores, tailors, and the likes were located within a close walking distance to their homes. The density of cities and towns began to change with the development of new technology like the street car. People began to live in primarily residential neighborhoods, instead of places with a mix of uses. According to Richard Dover, Knoxville based supporter of infill development, the automobile allowed people to live further from commercial centers. This meant developers could build new, primarily residential communities away from the stores in areas known as green fields, which led to the creation of suburbs. Instead of putting new houses and businesses in cities and towns where there might be empty parcels, underused buildings, or buildings needing rehabilitation, developers looked outside these areas.
Infill is a very important part of “smart growth,” says Richard Dover of Knoxville. Infill rose out of dissatisfaction with community development and the resulting traffic congestion, loss of open space, harsh environmental impact, lack of affordable housing, and costly infrastructure.
Infill development changes over time, but there’s no doubt, concludes Richard Dover, Knoxville, a successful infill development strengthens and energizes the existing community.