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Ignoring trends is not smart, especially when those trends affect the bottom line. This article discusses five important “smart growth” trends, each of which represents a hopeful shift from the sprawling, segregated land use pattern that has predominated since the end of World War II. …
A 1998 survey conducted by the Brookings Institution and the Fannie Mae Foundation found that one of the fastest growing segments of the nation’s housing market is downtown housing. For example, Houston expects its downtown population to quadruple by 2010. Cleveland expects its to triple. Denver, Memphis, and Seattle all anticipate doubling the number of downtown residents in the next ten years.
The growth in downtown housing is not restricted to large cities. Many smaller cities and towns are also seeing a growing market for downtown housing.
The growth in downtown housing is not restricted to large cities. Many smaller cities and towns are also seeing a growing market for downtown housing. Asheville, North Carolina; Portsmouth, Virginia; Burlington, Vermont; Dayton, Ohio; Bangor, Maine; and Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin are just a few examples. So what accounts for the growing demand for downtown housing?
- Access. Downtowns usually have the largest concentration of jobs in a metropolitan region, and downtown housing makes walking to work an attractive option. Downtowns also have the most public transportation facilities. Even when downtown residents have to drive, reverse commuting is an attractive option.
- Amenities. Virtually every downtown has amenities not typically found in suburban neighborhoods — museums, waterfront parks, colleges, theatres, unique views, and interesting architecture. While the quality of city schools remains a concern for families with school age children, only one-third of American households fall in this category.
- Pedestrian Friendly Environment. Older downtowns are walkable. They evolved during a period when development was compact, high density, and pedestrian friendly. Senior citizens, in particular, like the option of being able to walk to church, the post office, or shopping. Downtown housing also gives them access to public transportation. A growing number of cities have converted abandoned hotels, old schools, and vacant industrial buildings into housing for seniors and others.
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… other smart growth trends examined in the article: suburban town centers; open space systems; green space as a residential amenity; and cooperation, instead of confrontation.