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Optimized Land Use Combinations as New Infill Strategies?
Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) 51st Annual Conference (2010)
  • Thomas Wuerzer, University of Cincinnati

Planning approaches such as sustainability, growth management, and the Smart Growth element mixed-use seek to counteract uncontrolled urban growth by combining land uses. In Jabareen’s (2006) thematic analysis on sustainable urban forms, the compact city is a solution to achieve sustainability on scales from urban infill to the development of new settlements. Beyond compactness, mixed-use offers the opportunity to foster development within existing communities and encourage infill strategies. The results are developments at various scales but with increased livability and environmental consciousness. To set scale, the proposed paper focuses on the optimization of land use combinations as an element of redevelopment and infill strategies in urban areas; in particular in the urban settings of Cincinnati and sprawl pressured Hamilton County, Ohio.

Literature on growth management, real estate, and regional development planning lacks discussion of infill development under market scenarios. The literature reveals how mixed-use affects adjacent properties, but the important question of the composition of mixed-use properties is either disregarded or vaguely reported. Thus, because development of residential, commercial, and retail land uses is influenced by the real estate market and property values, it is not only reasonable, but of great utility, to merge elements from real estate and planning.

The hypothesis of this research is that an optimal combination of land uses can consider a developer’s profit while considering community objectives such fiscal impacts and the negative effects of sprawl. While re-examining Brueckner and Fansler’s empirical study on the size of cities and urban land, McGrath (2005) argues that market-forces are accountable for urban sprawl but fail to internalize social values associated to with land and community. Hence, development occurs on local level and the mix composition reflects the neighborhood’s influence (i.e. densities, public facilities, and vacancies) this would follow McGrath’s critique and convey concepts of Smart Growth with being socially optimal land uses (Bullard, 2007). Consequently, an understanding of the optimal mix of land uses will effectively support planners, and policy makers in their decision-making process.

The proposed paper’s embedding dissertation work applies a mixed integer-programming model to determine a strategic approach on appropriate land use compositions. The model implements variables ranging from legal (e.g. zoning), economic (e.g., real estate), and other quantified neighborhood constraints such as sustainability and equity issues. The methodology is well known in operations management, and is found in transportation planning, but rarely in land use planning with emphasis on one property. Although the latter implements modeling land use changes across adjacent properties (i.e. Gabriel et al. 2006), it does not seek a mixture of uses at one particular property as infill development at local scale (neighborhoods) or has implemented multiple stakeholder’s interests (if so, equity issues are not included).

The anticipated outcomes are a set of potential Pareto optima, provide a basis for needed land use policy and governance. This research offers a much-needed tool for urban planners and real estate professionals to reverse urban sprawl through economic and socially oriented infill. This will not prevent sprawl but contribute information for land use policy and development decisions to rethink green field development. This research adds significantly to the existing body of literature and will be especially useful for urban communities. Data for the model will come from Cincinnati from real estate brokers, the Hamilton County Auditor, and the Cincinnati Area GIS consortium. GIS will be used to feed the model.

The paper is drawn from ongoing dissertation work. The chair of my dissertation committee is Prof. Christopher Auffrey,


Bullard, Robert D., ed. 2007. Growing smarter: achieving livable communities, environmental justice, and regional equity. Cambridge, Mass. Cheltenham, UK ; Northampton, Mass., USA: MIT Press.

Gabriel, S. A., J. A. Faria, and G. E. Moglen. 2006. A multiobjective optimization approach to smart growth in land development. Socio-Economic Planning Sciences 40, no. 3: 212-248.

Jabareen, Yosef Rafeq. 2006. Sustainable Urban Forms: Their Typologies, Models, and Concepts. Journal of Planning Education and Research 26, no. 1: 38-52.

McGrath, D. T. 2005. More evidence on the spatial scale of cities. Journal of Urban Economics 58, no. 1: 1-10.

Publication Date
October 7, 2010
Citation Information
Thomas Wuerzer. "Optimized Land Use Combinations as New Infill Strategies?" Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) 51st Annual Conference (2010)
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