Suburbs Get Facelift: This Time, With Community-Minded Makeover

The suburbs are back, and a lot residents are OK with it. This time, however, things are different. A number of smaller cities around the country such as Rockville, Md., have spent the last 15 rethinking the notion of suburban sprawl and have created old-fashioned style communities that are more people-friendly and energy-efficient. Rockville -- immortalized on the 1984 R.E.M. single "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville" as the epitome of suburban blandness -- shut its ill-conceived mall a decade ago and created a town square populated by restaurants, stores, apartments, and even a subway. Its urban-style "smart growth" was funded by a public-private partnership.

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