Development has long been an economic driver in the United States. The agrarian culture morphed into the industrial revolution, and soon people began moving to growing cities and then to outlying suburbs to live. Housing (based on residential investment and consumption spending) contributes between 15 and 18 percent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
But through the decades, issues surfaced. Big-box stores, cookie-cutter homes in major tract subdivisions, and unsightly sprawl began to change how Americans viewed some development. Today, we are living at the intersection of that reality: the prevailing interests of homebuyers, businesses, commuters, millennials and municipalities that want fresher thinking, charming neighborhoods, interesting workplaces, and better developments.
Now, La Plata has an opportunity to meet those interests in a way that benefits the town, but also the public good.
The HUB at La Plata is an innovative telecommunity and development proposed for a part of La Plata forecasted for growth. It represents decades of research and experts who want to build a sustainable community that will benefit the town, all of its citizens and residents.
Experts have taken multiple factors into account, including broadband already in existence on the site and different land-use elements. Plans address parking, venues for goods and services, beautiful landscaping, stream crossings and restoration, working and living spaces, walking-friendly radiuses, parks, and even a roof-top pool.
All of these showcase what a prosperous and forward-looking community can mean. The proposed HUB supports the town’s vision because it will connect separate parts of La Plata and attract workers, residents and shoppers who — instead of spending money and time outside the region — will be interacting in life here.
The careful oversight that has gone into The HUB at La Plata is reflected in the selection of its lead planner, Seth Harry. By employing planning principles and understanding the time-honored building traditions of regions where new developments are proposed, Harry plans communities that respect these important attributes.
He works closely with a range of stakeholders, including the public, business community, government officials and community touchstones, to use organic planning processes in which all participating stakeholders can have their viewpoints aired and addressed.
Harry is the founder of Seth Harry & Associates, Inc., an architectural and urban planning and design firm founded in 1992 and headquartered in Frederick, Md. The firm’s portfolio includes: Emmitsburg, Md., Town Square Revitalization; Lee County, Fla., Comprehensive Plan Evaluation and Review (EAR) Process; City of Beaufort, South Carolina Master Plan and Downtown Retail Study and Redevelopment/positioning Strategy; City Centre Redevelopment Strategy and Infill Mixed-Use Master Plan, Walthamstow, Greater London, England; Carrothers Crossing, Nashville, Tenn., 800 Acre TND/comprehensive Form-based Rezoning; Midtown District Redevelopment Strategy and Master Plan, Omaha, Neb.; Newton/Ross’s Corners, State Office of Smart Growth, New Jersey; and Enloe Hospital/Avenues Neighborhood Master Plan, Chico, Calif.
We know that, ultimately, the definition of success for a new development must take into account whether people thrive where they work and live, and whether a new community will have a tax-positive effect on government coffers. The HUB is working toward meeting these objectives.
A key partner in The HUB is The Tower Companies, a preeminent business in green and LEED-certified construction and building based in Rockville, Md. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.)
Tower is a major investor in creating great communities that are still viable long after they are built. Tower is also a global change-agent in the real-estate and development niches with a track record of bringing federal jobs to the areas where their projects move forward. It supports developments that are planned correctly, fulfill a community need, and integrate long-term visioning.