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A recent report in Philadelphia Magazine championed King of Prussia and its adapting to the preferences of the millennial and baby-boomer urbanites as the model for a walkable suburb.
LOCUS, an affiliate of Smart Growth America, is an advocacy group consisting of developers committed to producing more sustainable communities. It noted King of Prussia’s ability to transform parts of the car-centric edge city into more walkable places, writes Sandy Smith of Philadelphia Magazine.
Director Christopher Coes describes LOCUS as a “triple bottom line” organization: “Our developments should be a net positive for the environment and the local community” as well as for the developer, he said.
According to Smith, there have been some small-scale efforts at turning what LOCUS calls “drivable sub-urban” regional centers into “walkable urban” ones in this region.
King of Prussia is the prime example.
The district is implementing more walkable places by narrowing thoroughfares, adding residences to shopping complexes, converting office buildings to mixed-use residential structures and adding a rail line that will connect almost all of the new developments to the mall, Norristown, and Philadelphia.
Eric Goldstein, King of Prussia District Executive Director, told Smith that the moves are aimed squarely at millennials and others who, while they might prefer suburban to urban living, nonetheless want some of that urban vibrancy close to home.
“Anyone who is in the regional mall business knows there hasn’t been a new mall opened since 2006 in the drivable suburban context,” Coes said. “Regional malls are dying.”
Which is why King of Prussia is undergoing a major transformation with the King of Prussia Town Center.
Coes indicated that “not every boomer or millennial wants to move into Manhattan or Downtown DC. But they do want some of that urban context. That’s what you’re seeing in King of Prussia, and that’s why they’re deploying that strategy now.”