Monday, December 5, 2011

Do the Suburbs Have a Future?

The Death of the Fringe Suburb (Christopher B. Leinberger, New York Times, Nov. 25, 2011)

Also discussed here: Here Comes the Neighborhood (Christopher B. Leinberger, The Atlantic, June 2010)

And here: The Future of the City- Special Report (The Atlantic, Jun. 8, 2010)

Today we look at the future of traditional North American cities with sprawling suburbs and large malls that can only be reached by car. Population trends toward an older society, the rise of carbon fuel costs and the desire for a better life style have shifted home buyers to the urban core from the suburban fringe- with huge impacts on what is left in the suburbs and the future priorities for transportation.

Key Quotes:

“It was predominantly the collapse of the car-dependent suburban fringe that caused the mortgage collapse”

“In the late 1990s, high-end outer suburbs contained most of the expensive housing in the United States, as measured by price per square foot…..Today, the most expensive housing is in the high-density, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods of the center city and inner suburbs”

“Many boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are now empty nesters and approaching retirement.. will downsize their housing in the near future. … live in a walkable urban downtown, a suburban town center or a small town”

“The millennials (born between 1979 and 1996) are just now beginning to emerge from the nest … favors urban downtowns and suburban town centers — for lifestyle reasons and the convenience of not having to own cars”

“only 12 percent of future homebuyers want the drivable suburban-fringe houses that are in such oversupply…Add the fact that the houses were built with cheap materials and methods to begin with, and you see why many fringe suburbs are turning into slums, with abandoned housing and rising crime”

“The cities and inner-ring suburbs that will be the foundation of the recovery require significant investment at a time of government retrenchment. Bus and light-rail systems, bike lanes and pedestrian improvements — what traffic engineers dismissively call “alternative transportation” — are vital”
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