Infill and Redevelopment Creates More Housing Choices in Lexington
A shortage of affordable housing is approaching a crisis across the US for many low to middle-income residents. Housing is defined as affordable when the occupant is paying no more than 30 percent of their gross income for housing costs. City and county governments, city planners, and policymakers are painfully aware that the limited housing stock available in US cities is financially out of reach for many people who live and work within them. This is true in Lexington, too. Many people are struggling to meet the high costs of housing even as they live, work, and send their children to school in Lexington. Thoughtful urban planning can help address this problem by incentivizing infill and redevelopment: the process of developing vacant or under-utilized parcels within existing developed areas. Strategic infill redevelopment, such as better using half-empty shopping malls and parking lots on our major roads like Richmond Rd., Versailles Rd. and others, increases more attainable and affordable housing options close to existing jobs, services, and amenities.
Fayette Alliance is dedicated to achieving equitable, sustainable growth in Lexington. To accomplish this, planning policies should aim to do the following:
- Provide a variety of affordable housing types at a variety of price points
- Mitigate displacement
- Incentivize community-driven investment
- Minimize negative environmental impacts of growth
How Does Infill and Redevelopment Make Housing More Affordable?
In the last several years, prospective homebuyers and renters across the United States have seen prices surge and supply stagnate. Recent research indicates that about half of Americans say the availability of affordable housing in their local communities is a major problem. As people are forced to spend a larger share of their income on housing costs, the affordable housing crisis becomes a concrete problem for working families, including those in Lexington.
Infill and Redevelopment is a form of development that directs investment into existing neighborhoods and infrastructure, building new development close to existing homes, jobs, services, and transit options. Thoughtful planning that has infill and redevelopment as a core component will create more attainable and affordable housing within Lexington’s USB. The features of infill and redevelopment planning include:
- Building smaller and more affordable single-family homes on existing small lots
- Ensuring that zoning regulations accommodate accessory dwelling units (ADUs)
- Developing more “missing middle housing” (MMH): apartment complexes, townhomes, duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, and more near existing jobs, transit, and amenities Urban planners across the US agree that affordable housing issues must be addressed by offering many housing options at multiple price points in our cities. Removing barriers to multifamily housing is critical to reaching this goal. By adopting local plans that expand housing choices, cities create more affordable homes and invest in their existing communities.
How Does Infill and Redevelopment Benefit Lexington?
Fayette Alliance envisions a future in which affordable housing is available to all Lexingtonians, across all socioeconomic levels. Our USB promotes exactly the kind of infill and redevelopment that urban planning experts recommend. By investing in the neighborhoods within our USB, we can continue to grow without excluding any of our residents from the benefits of that growth. An increase in MMH allows Lexington to become a more sustainable city overall: neighborhoods become walkable, and Lexingtonians gain access to nearby goods, services, and amenities. When people live within walking distance of their parks, pools, and community centers, this minimizes their transportation costs and limits the strain on our infrastructure and our environment.
It is critical to ensure that citizens of marginalized neighborhoods can continue to afford to remain in their homes. Displacement can be prevented by implementing policy solutions that go directly to ensuring residents can meet costs of increased property values, are educated and involved in discussions of neighborhood investments and improvements, and more. The market will not solve displacement, so intentional action must be taken, often outside of planning and zoning policy, but at the same time as land-use policies are implemented.
Lexington’s USB requires our city planners to engage in mindful planning that benefits all of our citizens. Fayette Alliance’s Grow Smart Study details how we can utilize infill and redevelopment along our major corridors to meet our housing needs and encourages community-driven investment in marginalized neighborhoods. When coupled with specific policies that aim to prevent displacement, infill and redevelopment can be done equitably. In particular, the Grow Smart Study shows how infill and redevelopment can occur along major corridors including Nicholasville Road and Richmond Road. Instead of investing in new infrastructure beyond the USB, we can revitalize existing infrastructure, while also improving public transit, biking, and pedestrian safety.
How Does Infill and Redevelopment Benefit Our Environment?
Building detached single-family housing at a distance from city centers is hard on both the environment and on cities’ infrastructure. The further one lives from work, school, and shopping, the more often—and more miles—one has to drive. This contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and increases wear and tear on roads and bridges. More cars on the road also contribute to air pollution and create runoff that is harmful to our soils. Fayette County soils are nationally significant due to their unique composition. It’s the backbone of our region’s distinctive agricultural industries, including the equine industry, bourbon production, and farming.
Expanding the USB would increase the number of roads in our area, and the number of cars on those roads, which would have negative environmental impacts. However, effective infill and redevelopment incentivizes investment in public transportation and bike and pedestrian access and safety. In robust city centers that have invested in their neighborhoods, people are often able to walk, ride a bike, or take short public transit trips to their destinations. Utilizing public transportation reduces greenhouse gas emissions, personal transportation costs, and air pollution.
Maintaining our USB also preserves our natural resources. Land and bodies of water are not lost to the building of roads, parking lots, and housing developments. Additionally, the overuse of water, air, and land in our communities not only harms our environment; it also impedes our quality of life. By committing to infill and redevelopment, we preserve the natural resources that give our area its distinctive natural beauty, contribute 2.3B to our local economy and employ 1 out every 12 Lexingtonians.
Fayette Alliance envisions a future Lexington in which our entire county is thriving, our agricultural lands are productive, and our citizens have access to safe and affordable housing. All of these things are possible and careful planning that is dedicated to inclusionary growth can help us get there. Lexington can be a future-oriented city that serves as a model for other cities in achieving smart growth for all of its citizens. Infill and redevelopment is a sustainable way to ensure that our city maintains its character and can remain home to Lexington residents across all income levels. Infill and redevelopment is a crucial element of Fayette Alliance’s vision: a beautiful, productive, and affordable Lexington that thrives well into the future.