Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Re-Making the Suburbs

Ryan Avent today on "making the suburbs:"

"The result is not hard to predict; once again, the wealthy are leading the way, but this time back into cities. In New York, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, London, and other metropolises, urban living is now a luxury good. The challenge now is to try and duplicate in suburbs the aspects of urban life that allow cities to succeed amid large and growing populations."

In light of the tipping point reached sometime in the last year or two, according to the Brookings Institution, that for the first time in America's history, more poor people live in suburbs (mostly first-ring) than the urban core, this will be the next great challenge for America and our cities over the next 40 years: RE-making the suburbs into more urban — and urbane — places.

A lot of first ring suburbs in my hometown of Atlanta have perfectly suitable houses, but as a colleague said to me today, "they are "old" and out-of-date, in neighborhoods increasingly occupied by people of umber hues, with schools certified by local REALTORS® as unacceptable." And so people go further out because it's been reinforced to them that brand-new construction is the only viable option.

As commuting patterns in massive metro areas like Houston, Atlanta, or even D.C. continue to shift from merely suburb-to-core, the challenge will be increasing urbanity and access within our first-ring suburbs and making them livable places once more.

This is all related to the New Yorker's piece on commuting in this month's issue, but I'll save that for later