Post details: What Will Come of Suburbia?

02/27/08

Permalink 10:10:48 am, Categories: News, Kirstan's Ramblings, Real Estate, 946 words   English (US)

What Will Come of Suburbia?

I've been a part of many discussions over the past year about all of the urban revitalization happening in Denver. Clients and others have asked me if I think that Denver is over building (there over 80 new developments planned or in progress over the next few years). I really don't think so. The Downtown Denver Partnership claims that Denver is growing (225,000 more people over the next 5 years) and is a desirable place to live. Economically, Denver is strong and nationwide events such as The Democratic National Convention will only help make a mark for our city.

I listened to a renowned architect's speech back in November and all of his studies showed that people are wanting to move back into the city and be closer to the urban core. He discussed these trends in Chicago, Kansas City, Denver, and several other cities. I came across a great article that hit this message home. It's written by Christopher Leinberger who is a professor of urban planning at the University of Michigan, an author, and a real estate developer. The article's main premise is that physical deterioration and disorder seem to be spreading in suburban areas. I've included excerpts from the 3 page article below, or click on the link at the end of this entry to read the entire article.

The article's first study makes a pretty large statement about the possible slums that may occur in these areas.

Arthur C. Nelson, director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, has looked carefully at trends in American demographics, construction, house prices, and consumer preferences. In 2006, using recent consumer research, housing supply data, and population growth rates, he modeled future demand for various types of housing. The results were bracing: Nelson forecasts a likely surplus of 22 million large-lot homes (houses built on a sixth of an acre or more) by 2025—that’s roughly 40 percent of the large-lot homes in existence today.

For 60 years, Americans have pushed steadily into the suburbs, transforming the landscape and (until recently) leaving cities behind. But today the pendulum is swinging back toward urban living, and there are many reasons to believe this swing will continue. As it does, many low-density suburbs and McMansion subdivisions, including some that are lovely and affluent today, may become what inner cities became in the 1960s and ’70s—slums characterized by poverty, crime, and decay.

Christopher also mentioned that "People are being drawn to the convenience and culture of walkable urban neighborhoods across the country...Sprawling, large-lot suburbs become less attractive as they become more densely built, but urban areas—especially those well served by public transit—become more appealing as they are filled in and built up.

Christopher Leinberger's article referenced another study:

In one study, for instance, Levine and his colleagues asked more than 1,600 mostly suburban residents of the Atlanta and Boston metro areas to hypothetically trade off typical suburban amenities (such as large living spaces) against typical urban ones (like living within walking distance of retail districts). All in all, they found that only about a third of the people surveyed solidly preferred traditional suburban lifestyles, featuring large houses and lots of driving. Another third, roughly, had mixed feelings. The final third wanted to live in mixed-use, walkable urban areas—but most had no way to do so at an affordable price. Over time, as urban and faux-urban building continues, that will change...Young people are starting families later than earlier generations did, and having fewer children. The Boomers themselves are becoming empty-nesters, and many have voiced a preference for urban living. By 2025, the U.S. will contain about as many single-person households as families with children.

In Denver, the newspapers have highlighted several problems with our inner city public schools. Their articles say that the schools are too crowded, test scores aren't at the levels they should be, and debates occur about whether they should be shut down, some have already been shut down. Many young people seem to be enrolled in private and magnet schools. Christopher states that "Schooling and safety are likely to improve in urban areas, as those areas continue to gentrify; they may worsen in many suburbs if the tax base—often highly dependent on house values and new development—deteriorates."

The writer predicts that "not all suburbs will suffer this fate. Those that are affluent and relatively close to central cities—especially those along rail lines—are likely to remain in high demand. Some, especially those that offer a thriving, walkable urban core, may find that even the large-lot, residential-only neighborhoods around that core increase in value."

Supposedly, "many inner suburbs that are on the wrong side of town, and poorly served by public transport, are already suffering what looks like inexorable decline. Low-income people, displaced from gentrifying inner cities, have moved in, and longtime residents, seeking more space and nicer neighborhoods, have moved out."

The article finishes by saying, "despite this glum forecast for many swaths of suburbia, we should not lose sight of the bigger picture—the shift that’s under way toward walkable urban living is a healthy development. In the most literal sense, it may lead to better personal health and a slimmer population." The writer doubt[s] "that the swing toward urban living will ever proceed as far as the swing toward the suburbs did in the 20th century; many people will still prefer the bigger houses and car-based lifestyles of conventional suburbs. But there will almost certainly be more of a balance between walkable and drivable communities—allowing people in most areas a wider variety of choices."

Read the entire article:
The Next Slum? or visit the website for other articles: The Atlantic.com

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Passionately Urban

Welcome to my journey. My name is Kirstan Borne and I'm an active community member, a Denver Realtor, RE investor, property manager, appraiser in training and a business owner. I moved from the suburbs to the city of Denver over 12 years ago. I'm passionate about intelligent and prosperous growth of Denver and state of Colorado. Location Innovators, Llc.

Kirstan Denver Realtor

To connect with me, email me at kmarks@TopDenverAgent.com. To search for a new home in the Denver metro area, please visit here .

Disclaimer: Regarding information throughout this blog that may appear to be advice - be sure to consult with your own qualified CPA and/or attorney concerning any legal matter.

Connect with me on Facebook Kirstan Marks, Kirstan Marks, Realtor (Location Innovators Llc): Commercial Real Estate Agent in Denver, CO

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