For my inaugural post, I’d like to share an article with you about future trends in urban real estate. While I am not a realtor myself, this new report published by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) is chock full of fascinating and often encouraging information for anyone interested in the future of cities. My favorite snippets about the United States include:
1. Any and all acknowledgement of the economic practicality of car-free development:
“…[there is and will be] intensifying demand for live-work environments which involve less car dependency and feature walkable neighborhoods, features which are very attractive to the increasing share of single-person households who make “living solo” a way of life.”
2. Any and all forecasts about suburbia losing its ethnic and economic sterility:
“Meanwhile, more single-family homes are occupied by renters changing the feel and politics of suburban communities.”
3. Any and all warnings not to build land-devouring, auto-dependent, cookie-cutter single-family homes for a while:
“In the banner years of the past decade, over 2 million [single-family suburban] homes were produced. Going forward, don’t expect more than 1 million new homes per year—and that happens only once the markets are back, after several more years.”
3. Fascinating demographic trends. Check out the map on page 36 that projects population growth of the 65+ crowd by state from 2010 to 2020. It looks like the Midwest and parts of New England are going to be the most youthful. My peers might say, “Cool man, no more old folks waving their walkers at ‘young hooligans’!” But honestly, I find it terribly sad when senior citizens cocoon themselves in quiet retirement communities, cutting themselves off from their families and long-cultivated networks of friends. I hope that here in the Chicago area, I continue to see older people
walking laps around the mall out and about with friends and family year-round over the next decade.
4. The location debate. A thought-provoking exploration of the age-old real estate maxim, “Location, location, location,” in a digital age.
5. Contemporary office spaces and what they imply about the values and work ethic of Generation Y. Apparently, Twitter has made my age group incapable of spending any amount of time working alone.
6. The rising value of energy-efficient buildings, and the subsequent acceleration of traditional buildings’ obsolescence.
7. THE VITAL IMPORTANCE OF MASS TRANSIT, tied in with afore-mentioned trends in compact urban and suburban development. This is coming from the real estate industry, people! An industry that since World War II has accelerated Americans’ exodus to the auto-dependent suburbs. Talk of transit warms my heart, you’ll learn this about me.
My only real protest against this report involves the authors’ discussion of larger, multi-generational household size:
“To save money, more of us must either live in larger households or in smaller units. Looking on the brighter side, the American family has a chance to reconnect, and what’s wrong with that?”
Clearly these authors have never lived with a parent after reaching adulthood. Or they have, and demonstrate high proficiency at sarcasm.