Sunday, June 22, 2008

Crisis Clashes With Design

QUESTION: What happens when developers don't listen to the market and disaster strikes? ANSWER: Massive Empty homes, crime, and McMansions.....

The US mortgage crisis has led to many empty homes and vast wasteland neighbourhoods. While the US is a big place and there are exceptions to the rule across the nation, many a suburban US home remains empty today. Apart from the mortgage crisis, developers did not do their homework. If they had, they would have found that the well-educated young people of today prefer "walkable urbanism", instead of their parent's detached single family home in the suburbs that offer long commutes and cars. And I would add that urbanism can come to the suburbs if we allow it to. A new CNN article goes on to say,

"Recent market research indicates that up to 40 percent of households surveyed in selected metropolitan areas want to live in walkable urban areas, said Leinberger. The desire is also substantiated by real estate prices for urban residential space, which are 40 to 200 percent higher than in traditional suburban neighborhoods -- this price variation can be found both in cities and small communities equipped with walkable infrastructure, he said."

Be it called Transit Oriented Development, Walkable Urbanism, or Eco-Chic, it certainly appeals to me and to anyone else that has figured out that our supplies of petroleum are not endless, spending hours a week in a car stuck in traffic gridlock does not provide me with a good quality of life, and I can enjoy meeting new people and my neighbours in a dense environment.

I wish we could see a development like Dockside Green (minus the ocean) here in Langley, along with some streetcars and an Interurban to round out the transit options. Wouldn't 200th Street look grand if it was anything like this? With eco-chic designs and light rail I would be putting my home up for sale in a heartbeat!

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