High-density development, infill boost urban economies

Immigration, culture-rich downtowns lure educated workers

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Commercial market demand is making infill development viable and profitable, while high-density development increases efficiency and leads to higher economic productivity, according to presentations at a commercial real estate forum at the National Association of Realtors Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. Amy Liu, deputy director of the Center on Urban & Metropolitan Policy at The Brookings Institution, said 18 out of 24 cities studied saw increases in their downtown populations during the 1990s. "Changing demographics may benefit high-density development," she said. "The general population is aging, and by 2020 the share of people in all age groups will be nearly the same. Household size is shrinking while cities are becoming more diversified, fueled by Asians and Hispanics." Liu said immigration has sustained the growth of many cities. Even so, decentralization still dominates, with suburban populations growing faster than urban populations durin...