In my neighborhood — and in Provo generally — an ongoing discussion is how to improve the area and fill it with families and others who will invest in the community. I’d argue that the best way to do that is to support economic programs that create jobs and development, and that also raise local salaries.
But another good way might be to promote “pocket neighborhoods” as engines of neighborhood revitalization. As always, I recommend reading that entire article, but the point of it is that solutions to sprawl — or, by extrapolation, poorly developed neighborhoods — don’t have to be high density apartment complexes. Instead, it can also be a more historically-based system of single family dwellings. The article cities New England as an example of where this idea has been working successfully for a long time. The homes are detached, but close together and walkably oriented.
The pocket neighborhoods in the article are both pleasing to look at and create common squares and spaces. (Even if you don’t read the article, click on the link to see more pictures.) In other words, pocket neighborhoods promote community over isolation. They’re also thankfully higher density than sprawling suburban homes and McMansions.
I know that in my neighborhood — South Joaquin — there are many aging apartment complexes and dumpy, postwar homes. These types of dwellings appeal to students looking for inexpensive housing, but hinder efforts draw families, increase property values, and generally gentrify. Pocket neighborhoods aren’t the only answer, but they are one thing that should seriously be considered.