The creation of new town centers based on New Urbanist principles has increased in the
United States throughout the past decade as suburban areas seek to revitalize themselves and
create a sense of place. While New Urbanism offers design principles intended to counter the
trends of urban sprawl, in suburbia the practice must often conform to the realities of existing
incongruous patterns of development, political, and market forces. Two suburban new town
center developments within the Twin Cities, Excelsior and Grand in St. Louis Park and Heart of
the City in Burnsville are nearing completion and exemplify ways in which New Urbanist
principles have been adapted to conform to the suburban context. As additional suburbs in the
Twin Cities seek to implement new town center plans they should carefully analyze New
Urbanist principles in the context of their own existing suburban fabric. Strict adherence to New
Urbanist principles may not be advisable if such principles threaten the viability of a project.
However a balance must be attained in order to achieve economic success while also providing
the benefits to the urban fabric that is exemplified in New Urbanist goals. Analysis of Excelsior
and Grand and Heart of the City may be useful to understand how this balance may be achieved.
Excelsior and Grand and Heart of the City will be critiqued here based on relevant New Urbanist
principles of The Neighborhood, The District, and The Corridor and The Block, The Street, and
The Building. Deviations from these principles will be examined based upon existing
demographic, market, and land use factors that apply to each specific case.
Schweser, Gregory R. (2008). New Town Centers Excelsior and Grand, St. Louis Park and Heart of the City, Burnsville: Adapting New Urbanist Principles to Meet Suburban Realities. Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
professional paper for the Master of Urband Regional Planning degree
New Town Centers Excelsior and Grand, St. Louis Park and Heart of the City, Burnsville: Adapting New Urbanist Principles to Meet Suburban Realities.
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
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