Home is where the businesses areDevelopments bring work, play closerMonday, November 17, 2008 3:02 AMTHE COLUMBUS DISPATCHTOM DODGE | Dispatch
Curb work is being done at Oak Park in Dublin, a new development that makes it easy to get around by bike or on foot.The Oak Park development, rising from a Dublin field in Union County, will contain a bit of everything --- town homes and single-family houses, stores, offices and restaurants.
The deal is that, if you live there, you can walk or bike to shop, get a bite to eat, go to the bank or even to work, not to mention visit the nearby Glacier Ridge Metro Park.
No driving means not using gasoline, which means not contributing to the ever-present carbon footprint.
Dublin is among a number of central Ohio communities that are encouraging neighborhood-friendly commercial developments, hoping to better combine shopping, working and living.
"One of the things we're trying to do with neighborhood centers is get away from strip malls, trying to make sure uses are mixed," Dublin senior planner Carson Combs said.
Even better is using bikeways and sidewalks, as Oak Park will, to tie the centers to nearby neighborhoods, which helps cut traffic on major roads, Combs said.
New Albany's master plan calls for such development, and Hilliard also is pushing for more neighborhood-friendly commercial areas, said Amy Lowe of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.
The aim is that people won't have to drive across town to buy a gallon of milk, Lowe said.
That will make the neighborhoods more like Worthington or Bexley, which attract the young, well-educated urban professionals whom area leaders are struggling to keep in Franklin County.
"We want to make sure central Ohio is competitive," MORPC Executive Director Chester Jourdan said. "We're competing against other parts of the country, other nations."
Look at Columbus' own German Village, where century-old brick houses sit next to restaurants and stores, said Ken Meter, who heads the Minneapolis-based Crossroads Resource Center, which focuses on building strong local economies.
Residents frequent those businesses, keeping dollars in the neighborhood. That helps sustain not only the businesses but also the value of the homes around them, Meter said.
Traditional strip centers cater to neighborhoods, too, but they are auto-oriented, said Jennifer Evans-Cowley, a professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State University. "If you're a pedestrian, it's not a safe route."
Columbus ranks 27th for walkability among the country's 40 largest cities, according to Walk Score. That's a Web site, www.walkscore.com, where you can plug in your address and gauge how car-dependent your neighborhood is, based on your home's proximity to stores, restaurants, libraries, schools and parks.
New Albany's master plan calls for retail strip centers near Rt. 161 interchanges, while the village's center would offer offices and specialty shops linked to neighborhoods by trails, said Jennifer Chrysler, community development director.
Bike paths also link office parks with retail centers near 161, she said. And Mount Carmel New Albany Surgical Hospital on Rt. 62 is next to the developing Smith Mills Shoppes, a mix of neighborhood-scale retailers, offices and homes.
"The fact we had the hospital developed as part of the community helped shape the retail development," Chrysler said.
Hilliard City Council will vote Nov. 24 on whether to pay a consultant $1.24 million to develop a comprehensive plan that better integrates sidewalks and paths with development so people can walk from their homes to stores or parks.
Hilliard has zoned land along Britton Road west of I-270 so that offices, homes and a neighborhood town center would be linked, Service Director Clyde "Butch" Seidle said.
"You get some responsible residential growth, not the untethered growth that you saw in the late 1990s and early 2000s," he said.
People, not speed.