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Greyfields are a New Urbanism Community Planning Solution to Sprawl

In an effort to meet a growing need for housing and livable urban places in a region constrained by lack of raw land, Anaheim, CA city officials are looking at surplus asphalt-rich shopping centers. These types of under-used sites with development potential have been given the name "greyfields," in contrast to "brownfields" which typically refer to land contaminated by previous users that requires cleanup before development can proceed.

Anaheim, CA Case Study: Freeway driven development has resulted in a hodgepodge urban fabric that characterizes Southern California suburban sprawl.

A typical strip mall uses less than 20% of the parcel; the rest is underused parking. > The City of Anaheim is working with The Planning Center — a Costa Mesa-based planning firm — to redevelop an aging strip mall into a mixed-use suburban village.

In addition to the shopping center redevelopment, adjacent low-intensity sites along Anaheim Boulevard are slated for inclusion in the new mixed-use Towne Center plan. At Santa Ana Street, a 4.6 acre former trucking site will be converted to 68 compact residential units featuring shared courtyards and a central pool. Architecture and housing typology is varied and the project will result in gross density levels of 15 units/acre. This kind of moderate density is enough to support businesses within walking distance and more transit options.

Using GIS technology, census and tax roll data, and windshield surveys, The Planning Center team identified over 700 greyfield sites ripe for redevelopment in Orange County. The study found that the sites range from 1/2 to 20 acres each. A subsequent analysis by the city of Santa Ana found a 40% excess in retail strip centers versus the number of trips needed to sustain them.

The Orange County division of the Building Industry Association awarded the Suburban Village concept the Ruby Slipper Award for "best promoting efforts to meet the affordable housing needs of Orange County."

For more information about the Anaheim Towne Center or the Suburban Village concept, contact The Planning Center at (714) 966-9220 or visit Additional information about greyfield redevelopment can be obtained from the Congress for the New Urbanism at (415) 495-2255 or