Tactical Urbanism in Cheverly and Suitland, Maryland


What is Tactical Urbanism? Arts and urban consultant, Cara Courage, describes tactical urbanism as making small but impactful changes to the cultural and physical fabric of a city or town to improve the “urban lived experience.” These improvements can involve elements of art, nature, or community, among others. The elements are planned and introduced as part of strategic rejuvenation efforts. Unlike major gentrification construction projects, tactical urbanism elements can be introduced quickly and at a low cost. Additionally, tactical urbanism seeks to build on the preexisting characteristics of a community without stripping away what makes it unique. The Town of Cheverly: The town of Cheverly, Maryland features a mix of residential, industrial, and some commercial areas. After research, site visits, and communication with stakeholders, it was determined that the town could benefit from improved pedestrian accessibility and community-engaging spaces. Cheverly’s industrial parks are critical to its economy, providing jobs and income for town’s residents. For this reason, it is a priority to preserve the industrial areas while making them more accessible for workers and pedestrians. Specifically, access to public transportation can be improved with elements such as additional sidewalks, pedestrian bridges, bike lanes, and bike racks. Cheverly’s residential areas lack buffers from nearby industrial activities. Trees and fences should be added throughout the town to mitigate the negative impacts of industrial uses. The residential areas could also benefit from improved community recreation and gathering spaces. Local parks lack features that attract regular community use such as picnic tables, gardens, or other functional elements. It will be a priority to improve Cheverly’s residential areas to make best use of their existing spaces and foster greater community interaction. Finally, Cheverly’s commercial areas are dated and relatively inactive. The restaurants along Maryland Avenue don’t attract as much business as in the past and the once popular Friendly Inn is now largely unused. In an effort to revive these spaces, small projects such as creating patio space, safe pedestrian walkways, and improved parking locations can have a great impact. It is important to the town that the local businesses can thrive. Therefore, any tactical urbanism projects will aim to bring more foot traffic to the existing commercial areas and create spaces that community members will feel comfortable using. Creative Suitland and Sustainability: Creative Suitland began in February 2020 as an “arts-based community development strategy” that aims to support local arts through “job creation, artist opportunity, audience development, creative placemaking, and arts education.” Suitland, Maryland is an unincorporated community within Prince George’s County with approximately 25,000 residents. At its colorful facility, filled with locally sourced artwork, Creative Suitland’s weekly classes for all ages aim to create space for residents to build relationships through affordable arts entertainment. The facility includes a large auditorium, studios for dance classes, and rooms for meetings and art classes. Creative Suitland has the advantage of a unique community location. Across the street from the U.S. Census Bureau and near four public schools (William Beanes and Suitland Elementary Schools, Drew-Freeman Middle School, and Suitland High School), Creative Suitland is highly accessible, provided that the infrastructure exists to attract and manage artists. Volunteers have done an exceptional job of fostering an environment that emphasizes community needs and preferences. Further improvements can solidify Creative Suitland as a community asset. Exterior work that complements the building’s interior improvements can help Creative Suitland make bold placemaking statement. In conjunction with the Creative Suitland team, this report’s recommendations seek to enhance the beauty, accessibility, and sustainability of Creative Suitland’s building exterior and outdoor space. We suggest the flowing elements to bridge the arts, community development, and environmental sustainability: • sustainable lighting • green infrastructure • outdoor stage • outdoor furniture • green roof • grants and funding opportunities • pedestrian bridge.


Final project for PLCY688T: Team-Based Policy Lab (Spring 2020). University of Maryland, College Park.