Manuals and Metrics
Place Types: Community Activity Center
Goal: Provide places that have a concentration of primarily commercial and residential activity in a well-connected, walkable place located within a 10-minute walk, bike, or transit trip of surrounding neighborhoods.
Community Activity Centers are mid-sized mixed-use areas, typically along transit corridors or major roadways, that provide access to goods, services, dining, entertainment, and residential for nearby and regional residents.
- Typical uses are retail, restaurant and entertainment, and personal services.
- Some multi-family and office may also be located in this Place Type. In Transit Station Areas, multi-family and/or office may be primary uses.
- Some types of auto-oriented uses, well-designed to support walkability, may be located outside of the core of this Place Type.
- This Place Type is characterized by low to mid-rise commercial, residential, civic/institutional, and mixed-use buildings in a pedestrian-oriented environment.
- Community Activity Centers in Transit Station Areas are typically more intensely developed than Community Activity Centers in other locations.
- These Place Types include a transportation network that supports highly accessible “10-minute neighborhoods” and a “park once” environment.
- Community Activity Centers are typically located at or near key intersections or on major Arterials with transit service.
- The Local street network is well-connected, with small blocks and highly walkable connections along streets and between destinations.
- There are frequent opportunities to cross adjacent Arterials, and the pedestrian network accommodates large groups of people.
- Easy access and direct connections to nearby residential neighborhoods help reduce trip lengths, keeps some cars off the Arterials, and encourages transit use, walking, or bicycling.
- Mobility hubs with transit stations, pick-up and drop-off areas, bike parking and share, and micro-mobility options should be provided within this Place Type to accommodate the high-level non-vehicular traffic.
- The typical building is a commercial, institutional, multi-family or mixed-use building of five to seven stories. Some buildings in Transit Station Areas are taller.
- Buildings are designed with active ground floor uses to support a vibrant pedestrian environment.
- Buildings, especially non-residential structures, have tall ground floors and a high degree of transparency using clear glass windows and doors.
- Buildings orient to streets with prominent entrances connected directly to the public sidewalk. Buildings should also orient toward existing or planned on-site open spaces and abutting parks and greenways.
- Improved open space is a key feature of this Place Type.
- Community Activity Centers include numerous improved open spaces such as plazas, patios, and courtyards that may include landscaping.
- Public open spaces such as small parks and greenways, and natural open spaces such as tree preservation areas, are also an important feature and should be included in centers.
A.Wide sidewalks with hardscape amenity zone or landscape zone
B.Regular street trees on core streets
C.Highly amenitized public realm with frequent open spaces
D.Ground floors with retail, patios, or other active uses
E.Upper story balconies and rooftop patios
F.Improved multi-modal connectivity and mobility hub amenities
G.Well-connected, amenity-rich transit stops
H.On-street parking and screened or wrapped parking lots/structures
Bird’s Eye Highlights
A.Infill development on existing parking lots and underutilized parcels
B.Mid-rise mixed-use (5 to 7 stories), active ground floors with office or residential above, orienting to street or public space
C.Transition down in intensity to neighborhoods
D.Small walkable blocks in organized grid pattern
E.Improved pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular circulation and connectivity to adjacent neighborhoods
F.On-street parking and screened or wrapped parking lots/structures
- Buildings come in a variety of styles and uses including commercial, institutional, or multi-family, they are typically between five to seven stories but may be taller in Transit Station areas.
- Commercial buildings should have a highly transparent and active ground floor to support a vibrant pedestrian environment, where uses spill into the public realm.
- A large, comfortable public realm with many amenities is key to creating walkable, mixed-use environments that support local businesses, residents, and other active uses.
- Buildings orient to streets with prominent entrances connected directly to the public realm. Buildings also orient toward shared open spaces, parks and greenways.
- A tall ground floor, stepbacks and articulation in the facade helps create a human scale and a vibrant public realm.
- Uses provide diverse goods and services to neighborhoods and surrounding areas.
- Tree canopy is made up of primarily street trees and along pedestrian paths to reduce heat stress.
- Tree canopy is accommodated on-site with internal trees located on lawns and urban open space. Newly constructed and rehabilitated streets, sidewalks, plazas, and pocket parks on public and private properties support the growth and longevity of large stature trees.
- In on-street and off-street parking areas, design and construction criteria are such that there are sufficient trees planted to mitigate heat island effect and stormwater run-off. Greater use of innovative approaches such as pervious pavement and green infrastructure will be encouraged.
- Tree canopy cover ranges from 20% - 30%. 90% of all public and street planting sites will have trees.
- Transitions use site-based elements such as parking, open space, and landscape buffers to create separation from less intense Place Types.
- Building heights will be lower along edges abutting neighborhoods.
- Buildings are typically located near the back of the sidewalk on local and main streets, and on arterial streets greater separation between the building and street travel lanes is provided.
- A majority of the street frontage is occupied by buildings and urban open spaces, particularly on primary frontages.
- Buildings are located near the side and rear property lines. When abutting neighborhoods, the buildings are further from the property line and there is room for a landscaped buffer.
- Space between the sidewalk and the face of buildings contains outdoor seating or usable open space that contributes to a lively streetscape and a robust public realm.
Parking & Loading
- Parking is typically limited and located in parking structures. Structured parking is designed to be screened or wrapped in other uses and should consider green roofs. Small surface parking lots are sometimes located to the side or rear of buildings.
- The ground floor of structured parking facilities includes active uses when fronting streets.
- Loading facilities are located to the rear of buildings and screened from street view.
- Parking areas and areas adjacent to buildings and destinations include accommodations for rideshare access, micro mobility options, and designated bike and scooter parking.
Block Lengths & Street Network
- Community Activity Centers have a dense street network to reflect the high emphasis on accessibility by all modes. Short block lengths allow for more connections and create more (and shorter) route options to and through the Community Activity Center, thereby encouraging walking and cycling, while helping disperse vehicular traffic.
- The preferred block length is 500 feet and block lengths typically not exceed 650 feet.
Pedestrian & Bicycle Facilities
- Local and Arterial streets have 8-foot sidewalks with amenity zones or planting strips. Planting strips are only used on connecting Local streets with lower density residential uses or on non-parked Arterials outside the core of the Community Activity Center.
- Main streets have 10-foot sidewalks with an amenity zone.
- Sites include a robust internal pedestrian network to encourage walking between buildings, and excellent connections to adjoining sites and neighborhoods, to reduce unnecessary auto trips to and within the Community Activity Center.
- Sites always include clear and direct pedestrian and bicycle access between streets and the buildings.
- Shared use paths are provided where they are shown on the adopted Streets Map.
- Separated bike lanes are provided on Arterial streets, sharrows are included on Local and internal streets. The bike network is complete, well-marked, safe, and easy to use.
- Community Activity Centers have a moderate to high level of non-auto mode trips due in part to being able to provide a “park once” environment.
- On-site parking is accessible from Local streets or alleys, rather than directly from Arterials.
- Driveways are limited or consolidated (preferably one per block) to maintain a pedestrian-focused public realm.
- Cross access is used to help limit the number of driveways and reduce short distance auto trips on the Arterial streets. Alleys are often used as part of the internal network to improve connectivity between sites, and/or to provide for deliveries, access to parking decks, and access to loading zones.
- Driveways are designed and located to align on either side of Local Streets.
Curb Lane Management & On-Street Parking
- On-street parking is required along Local and Main streets and may be provided along some Arterial streets.
- The curb space has high turnover, particularly along local and Main streets, requiring curb lane management to accommodate multiple users.
Transportation Demand Management
- There are significant opportunities for Transportation Demand Management.