What Makes a Great Neighborhood?


Great Neighborhoods show how all elements of the built environment — including land use, transportation, housing, energy, and infrastructure — work together to provide a high quality of life through sustainable, green places for living, working, and recreation. Does the neighborhood:

  • Include accessible, multi-modal transportation options?

  • Have mixed land-use patterns that are walkable and bikeable?

  • Make smart design choices to encourage density, reduce energy use, and increase resiliency?

  • Conserve and reuse historic resources that capture the character and sense of place of the community?


Great Neighborhoods ensure that the contributions of natural resources to human well-being are explicitly recognized and valued, and that maintaining their health is a primary objective. Does the neighborhood:

  • Respond to the natural habitats and topography in which it exists?

  • Support environmentally friendly practices?

  • Maintain green infrastructure?

  • Reduce solid waste through recycling and/or composting?

  • Protect natural water resources and encourage water conservation?


Great Neighborhoods are built to weather both positive and negative economic circumstances through sustainable urban development and redevelopment strategies that foster green business growth and build reliance on local assets. Does the neighborhood:

  • Provide room for businesses to grow and thrive?

  • Have a healthy mix of public space, residential buildings, and commercial land uses, supported by adequate infrastructure?

  • Contain a thriving mix of businesses serving local needs in a way that is compatible with the character of the community?


Great Neighborhoods ensure fairness and equity in providing for the housing, services, health, safety, culture, and livelihood needs of all citizens and groups. Does the neighborhood:

  • Provide a range of housing types?

  • Have housing to support working class residents of the neighborhood?

  • Protect residents from environmental and health hazards?

  • Provide equitable access to health care providers, schools, public safety services, and arts and cultural facilities?


Great Neighborhoods recognize and address public health needs by providing for healthy foods, physical activity, access to recreation, health care, environmental justice, and safety. Does the neighborhood:

  • Protect residents and businesses from exposure to toxins and pollutants in the natural and built environments?

  • Promote security from crime, and is it perceived as safe for children and other users? (i.e., traffic calming, street lighting, bicycle, police, etc.)

  • Illustrate a productive redevelopment of a former brownfield site?

  • Provide activities and facilities that support everyday health, including: accessible parks, outdoor fitness equipment, bike lanes, trails, greenways, and open space?

  • Provide residents with access to healthy, fresh foods?


Great Neighborhoods often act as an anchor of surrounding regions, and exhibit high levels of connectivity with neighboring areas. They account for, connect with, and are compatible with adjacent neighborhoods and the community as a whole. Does the neighborhood:

  • Provide residents with access to regional destinations, such as employment opportunities, services, and recreational amenities?

  • Show a history of coordination with city-wide and regional development visions or plans?


Great Neighborhoods are built through planning processes that actively involve all segments of the community in analyzing issues, generating visions, developing plans, and monitoring outcomes. Does the neighborhood:

  • Engage diverse stakeholders and promote leadership development among community members, especially the disadvantaged and underserved, in all stages of the planning process?

  • Encourage diverse participation, and advocacy with community groups and members of disadvantaged communities?