Des Moines, IA
Efficient land use is not only vital to protecting natural resources but to profitable physical development. High density design allows for more activities within a smaller space and has continuously attracted the young, creative classes in search of dynamic places in which to live. In the effort to create these dense, walkable communities, the process of urban infill—the use of land within an already developed area—is a key to success, but no easy task. Urban land available for infill is often environmentally hazardous, such as deserted manufacturing sites known as brownfields. Other pieces of land may have little or no environmental contamination but are outdated, abandoned, or have plummeted in value; these derelict parking lots or vacant strip malls are known as grayfields. Most communities have them, but very few have effective strategies for turning these properties into valued parts of the community such as those in Des Moines, Iowa. Fulfilling its role as the regional economic development organization, the Greater Des Moines Partnership worked in collaboration with local allies to take major steps in reducing sprawl and carbon emissions through the mending of their urban fabric.