Master-planned communities are all-inclusive neighborhoods that are located on the fringe of the urban core. While these have been lauded in the past for incorporating an all-inclusive design, they also have been blamed for perpetuating the movement of people and families to the outskirts of town and perpetuating urban sprawl. The city of Tampa, Florida and Hillsborough County has a staggering number of master-planned communities that resulted from a housing and population boom in the last two decades, including the award-winning neighborhoods of Westchase and Tampa Palms.
- They are safe and cozy environments for raising families;
- Many of these communities have neighborhood schools, especially at the elementary level;
- And just like the suburban enclaves, many of these communities have basic stores such as grocery and drug stores within or near the community.
But these pros cannot outweigh the cons for many people. Because many master-planned communities are located on the outskirts of the city, residents can face long commute times and spending a higher percentage of household income on transportation costs. These commute times also translate to more time spent away from the house and family. Also, while some of the basic necessity stores are located within or near the community, these stores alone cannot support all household purchases. This means residents must also drive far for basic purchases at times.
Urban planners are now at a crossroads. Here in Tampa, and Florida as a whole, many planners are starting to tackle the massive problems the area is facing from the urban sprawl development boom. The population exploded for a decade in many Sunbelt states, and to keep up with demand, planners and housing developers kept building further out from the urban core. There has been much research indicating that new adults prefer to stay within the urban core, which holds down transportation and housing costs.
Will these master-planned communities phase out? Will urban planners start using transit-oriented development or make suburban areas within cities to help mitigate the urban sprawl caused by master-planned communities?
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