3. Build Livable Communities

Well-designed communities have a balance of jobs, homes, services, and amenities. While most Americans live in the suburbs, there is a strong preference for traditional neighborhood development (TND) that are compact, have pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly complete streets, quality public space, and a variety of uses and building types. The Main Street Four-Point Approach® can serve as the foundation for local communities to strengthen and revitalize downtowns by leveraging local assets—from cultural or architectural heritage, to local businesses and sense of place.

Design Neighborhoods—Not Subdivisions

Unlike conventional subdivisions, neighborhoods should be designed to create a sense of place and community identity that encourages social interaction, walking, and connectivity.

  • Discernible center
  • Noticeable boundaries
  • Compact in nature
  • Variety of housing types
  • Public and commercial activities in close proximity
  • Parks and open space
  • Connected street grid
  • Reduced building setbacks
  • Street parking
  • Community and civic buildings
  • Public transportation options
  • Quality architecture design
  • Strong sense of community

The graphic below shows the overall plan for the Village of Bayberry in Bear.  Note the grid street pattern and how each section of the community is connected with others.  It is intended to be series of neighborhoods, not a series of subdivisions.

Village of Bayberry in Bear, Delaware

Bring Back the Grid

The layout and design of streets has a major impact on the walkability of a community. Traditionally, streets were designed to follow a pattern of grids and blocks with multiple points of entry and connections.  In contrast, contemporary street layouts in suburban communities are often curvilinear, contain few points of entry, and have dead-end cul-de-sacs. Bringing back the grid-style layout and design can provide:

  • Interconnected Streets
  • Speed-management strategies
    • Decrease automobile speeds and reduce accidents
    • Promote better environments for non-motorized users

The graphics illustrate how the natural extension of the traditional grid street pattern works better than the “disconnected pod” street layout of suburban development.

Example of Traditional Development vs. Suburban Development

Source: Complete Streets in Delaware: A Guide for Local Governments

Mix Uses

A mixed-use development means a neighborhood, a community, or even a single building with a variety of complementary and integrated uses.

Residential and Residential

An example of residential mixed-use development with townhouses and detached homes.

Perhaps the most familiar (and most basic) type of mixed-use development is a neighborhood with detached homes, townhomes, and duplexes (sometimes called “twins” or semi-detached homes).

Commercial and Residential

An example of mixed use development with commercial and residential uses

Mixed use is sometimes vertical as shown in this photo of shops located on street level with apartments on upper floors in Newark.


Mixed-use can also mean an entire community that includes residential and commercial uses.  The overall plan for the Eden Hill Farm in Dover features medical and other commercial offices, a wide variety of home styles, and a village green.

Eden Hill Farm Master Plan

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