August 05, 2010
Shifting Towards Urban MarketsBy: Stuart Toraason
Recent economic times have left many of us scratching our heads trying to figure out where the next wave of work is going to come from for those of us in the construction industry. After a recent roundtable discussion with a group of architect clients we mostly concluded that the urban market has returned first and will remain strong through continued development in our city centers.
During the 1990s the Baby Boomers were in their family forming years and the nations suburbs grew faster than its cities. Jobs and retail followed housing and infill urban development had many perceived challenges. Moving forward from 2010 however demographic trends and perceived barriers such as traffic and quality of life will likely drive demand for more urban products. As Boomers retire many are choosing different lifestyles, trading in the 5 bedroom house and yard for well located townhomes, condos and senior living facilities. The Gen Xers and Echo Boomers as well tend to demand more urban lifestyles with a propensity towards remaining single and starting families late.
The fastest growing household demographic is that of childless couples, non-family and single person households. All tolled as many as 65% of new households will be candidates for something other than the traditional suburban cul-de-sac house. In addition surveys have shown preferences for “new urbanism”, and urban mixed use developments have been able to achieve higher rents per square foot than suburban developments in recent years.
A recent AIA survey featured on www.builderonline.com confirmed the demand for urban infill development over suburban development:http://www.builderonline.com/green-building/infill-invasion.aspx. As professionals devoted to responsible land use we welcome the current surge towards urban living and look for it to remain strong as a sustainable development strategy.