Bad Mortgages and Gas Prices = Good For Cities?

The article suggests that rising gas prices, enduring subprime mortgage crisis, and some changing demographics (i.e., the aging of Baby Boomers) are all contributing to the greater popularity of central city neighborhoods.

"Today, the subprime-mortgage crisis and $4-a-gallon gasoline are delivering further gut punches by blighting remote subdivisions nationwide and rendering long commutes untenable for middle-class Americans.

Just as low interest rates and aggressive mortgage financing accelerated expansion of the suburban fringe to the point of oversupply, 'the spike in gasoline prices, layered with demographic changes, may accelerate the trend toward closer-in living,' said Arthur C. Nelson,director of Virginia Tech's Metropolitan Institute in Alexandria, Va. 'There are fundamental changes occurring in demand for housing in most parts of the country.'

Christopher Leinberger, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and a developer of walkable areas that combine housing and commercial space, describes the structural shift as the 'beginning of the end of sprawl.'

Todd Zimmerman, a housing consultant and an early advocate of pedestrian-friendly community planning known as New Urbanism, said demographic and cultural factors explain a big part of the trend. Baby Boomers and Millennials are the country's two biggest generations, with some 82 million and 78 million people born in their respective eras. Both are finding that higher-density urban housing fits their lifestyles."

Full Story: Urban centers on the rise again

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