Creating Suburban Exclusivity in the City

City life is being sold as a convenient version of the suburbs, with similar amenities minus the time-consuming commute.

2 minute read

May 28, 2019, 2:00 PM PDT

By Camille Fink

New York City Rooftop

Chris Goldberg / Flickr

Candace Jackson writes that more wealthy people are moving back into cities from the suburbs and developers are marketing an urban lifestyle to them that reflects the suburban life they are leaving behind. Much larger units, rooftop gardens and swimming pools, and parking garages are elements of new developments that are reminiscent of suburbia, says Jackson:

At the Quay Tower, which overlooks Brooklyn Bridge Park [in New York City], there are just five condos on each floor, two of which have private elevator access. Inside, the larger units have something you see a lot of on HGTV suburban house renovation shows: large mudrooms off the back door with locker-like cubbies and sturdy ceramic-tile floors.

In addition, the areas around these buildings are catering to suburban sensibilities, with big-box retail, malls, and upscale food courts. "Of course, these new buildings are designed for a very narrow slice of the population — those who can afford to spend multiple millions of dollars on a home — but it’s a slice of the population whose purchasing decisions affect all city dwellers," notes Jackson.

Jackson notes that the demographic changes happening in cities involve not just class but, for some cities, race as well. "The return of affluent whites to cities has made for a something of a reversal of the white-flight phenomenon of the early and mid-20th century, when middle class and wealthy whites left cities en masse for the homogeneous suburbs."

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