Limited-access highway-oriented commercial development is a common land use pattern. In many Minnesota towns a highway transects three distinct contexts: rural, "sub-urban," and the town center, or urban core. The sub-urban or 'at the edge of town' area is the most challenging context and is the focus of this best practice, which also addresses the common "in-town" land use of auto-oriented commercial developments (both commercial arterials and large-format superblocks).
Typical highway commercial development is appropriately oriented towards automobile traffic, but often lacks visual appeal, creates an inefficient linear development pattern rather than clusters, and reduces highway functionality by creating too many closely spaced problem intersections. Auto-oriented development also is typically lower density, consuming development acres less efficiently and yielding lower property tax revenues per acre. This style of development fragments habitat and imposes higher infrastructure maintenance costs onto cites. As gateways into - and the places that visitors get their first impressions of - communities, highway commercial development can be made more context-sensitive, attractive, ecological, efficient and even bikable/walkable.