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Monday, May 9, 2011

Question: Are the suburbs our future?

A new apartment soars above the core. It has a suburban twin.
When I read the question in The London Free Press that became the title of today's post, I thought the question was at least sixty years out-of-date and getting a wee bit stale.

By some calculations, the suburbs of North American cities have been outpacing inner city neighbourhood growth for more than a half century. In the past, many believed the suburbs were the future, today many still believe it, and in the world of tomorrow there are numerous reasons to believe the suburbs will remain the urban growth sweet-spot.

That said, cities once gave every sign that they could sprawl outward forever but a change may be in the offing --- but I wouldn't hold my breath. It seems for the first time in years, some urban cores are growing faster than their outlying suburbs.

Builder reports an EPA study, Residential Construction Trends in America’s Metropolitan Regions, that found permits in certain central cities and first-ring suburban neighborhoods are outpacing greenfield developments.

Smart growth proponents have long predicted that the ever-greater expansion of suburbia would one day reach its limit, prompting a renewed interest in central city living. A new EPA report suggests this trend is well underway, with residential permits in downtown areas and close-in suburbs more than doubling since 2000 in 26 of the largest metro regions in the United States.

The shift has been especially pronounced in some big cities, such as New York, which saw its share of regional permits increase from 15% in the early 1990s to 48% by 2008. In Chicago, housing permits inside city limits rose from 7% to 27% over the same time period.


Will this trend come to London? Is the inner city core our future?

[I doubt the core is our future. But look for more high density infill developments right across the entire London urban landscape and definitely watch for more residential and high-rise office development throughout the core.]


Addendum:

I found this on the Web. It seems the suburbs may have been hailed as the future as long ago as 539 B.C. Supposedly, the following comes from a letter written on a clay tablet to the King of Persia:

"Our property seems to me the most beautiful in the world. It is so close to Babylon that we enjoy all the advantages of the city, and yet when we come home we are away from all the noise and dust."

No dust? Must have been all those suburban lawns.

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