Successfully integrating an infill project, noted Braun, has as much to do with integrating the community’s land plan as it does with creating compatible product. And both, Braun said, need to be developed simultaneously. “The land, streets, setbacks and other requirements will dictate what the lot depth and size will be, and that will dictate what product to build.” Landscape design features will aid in helping site the products on individual lots, he said. For example, instead of creating homes with steep driveways, re-site garages or use retaining walls.
“The product has to be site specific,” said Thomas Barton III, president and CEO of, Barton and Associates Architects and Planners, of Norristown, PA. For Southport Green, an infill project in Southport, CT, Barton said he designed townhouses over flats for part of the community. But, he said, designing product for individual projects can be “cost prohibitive.”
One way to reduce costs is to use some of the products in other projects, Braun said, noting that it works when creating communities that have a variety of products. “If the sales are good, you may be encouraged to use the units in other communities. Product used this way has a life of about nine to 10 years,” he said.
Even though many existing communities are welcoming infill development as a way of boosting economic growth, all the panel experts agreed that the review process can be lengthy and costly. “When budgeting, double, triple or even quadruple your initial figures,” Braun said.
All also noted that the most efficient way to speed the process and eliminate some of the costs is to “do your homework.” This entails including civil engineers, architects and landscape planners on the development team, as well as getting the neighboring community involved in the process.
“Develop a partnership with the people involved in the approval process,” McLaurin said. “Know your environment. Be a good listener and understand the community."
“Focus on the project, not the process,” he added. “Get the community to buy into the image of what you are building. Show them how great the job will be and then pull out the plan.”
When presented this way, Barton said, the approval process generally will proceed with much more support and a lot less resistance. “Size doesn’t really matter,” he said. “Buildings can be used to buffer housing. Density is not measured, density is perceived.”
Barton also noted that there were increasingly more opportunities to partner with non-traditional groups — such as nonprofit organizations, churches and quasi-government agencies — when creating infill developments.
[ Go to Top ]