Why Have the Exurbs Declined?

Christopher B. Leinberger expounds on the mortgage crisis plaguing America, particularly the exurbs. Rather than being a product of the excesses of bank lending and regulation, Leinberger attributes it to demographic changes benefiting cities.

Urban theorist Leinberger is a "senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and professor of practice in urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan." He discloses his bias on this urban/exurban debate: " I am the president of Locus, a coalition of real estate developers and investors and a project of Smart Growth America, which supports walkable neighborhoods and transit-oriented development".

Leinberger's basis for his prediction on decline of the exurb and growth of walkable, inner-ring suburbs and cities is his research.

"In the late 1990s, high-end outer suburbs contained most of the expensive housing in the United States, as measured by price per square foot, according to data I analyzed from the Zillow real estate database...Today, the most expensive housing is in the high-density, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods of the center city and inner suburbs"

"Simply put, there has been a profound structural shift - a reversal of what took place in the 1950s, when drivable suburbs boomed and flourished as center cities emptied and withered.

The shift is durable and lasting because of a major demographic event: the convergence of the two largest generations in American history, the baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and the millennials (born between 1979 and 1996), which today represent half of the total population.

The cities and inner-ring suburbs that will be the foundation of the recovery require significant investment at a time of government retrenchment. Bus and light-rail systems, bike lanes and pedestrian improvements - what traffic engineers dismissively call "alternative transportation" - are vital. So is the repair of infrastructure like roads and bridges."

Thanks to Loren Spiekerman

Full Story: OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR The Death of the Fringe Suburb

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