Industry News

Renewed interest in new urbanism

Economic, social reasons play into today's reverse migration

Back in the 1990s, new urbanism and smart-growth movements began advocating for alternatives to urban sprawl, promoting a cross-hatch of ideas from the simple, such as redeveloping along mass transit stops; to the more ephemeral, such as strengthening downtowns to make them more attractive to young, knowledge-based workers. Indeed, new urbanism advocates seemed to be ahead of the curve as Generation X entered the workplace and began taking up residences closer to the downtown core. Then came the great real estate bubble, and the trend line ground to a halt like a tram approaching a congested intersection. The availability of cheap financing, which pushed more people into single-family homes, spurred builders to create huge new developments further and further out into the exurbs where raw land was plentiful and cheap. When the real estate bubble deflated beginning in 2007, many of those long-distance developments were the first to suffer.First, the customers disappeared an...