Lessons from the Pandemic: Housing, Retail, Broadband

Second in a series of conversations about what comes next in local government policies and processes, this time between Geoff Koski and Ben Brown on housing, retail, and broadband

2 minute read

May 12, 2020, 12:00 PM PDT

By Hazel Borys

Restaurant Business

Sharkshock / Shutterstock

Koski advises to real estate pros, governments, and non-profits on real estate and economic development-related issues. Brown asks a series of pandemic-related questions, starting with:

Ben Brown: There’s no getting around the cloud of uncertainty that will continue to frustrate planning efforts for the next few months. But that doesn’t mean those responsible for making and implementing policies, whether we’re talking leaders in government or business, can get away with doing nothing. Doing nothing is policy by default. So acknowledging all that, what are you encouraging your clients to think about right now?

Geoff Koski: Whether we’re talking about housing or retail or office space, I think the overarching impact of the pandemic and the Great Lockdown is that they will be trend accelerators. The need for innovative affordable housing answers, retail increasingly moving online, the death of distance in the logistics field, the work-from-home shift — all of these things were real and happening at the beginning of 2020. And they’ve only become more apparent and happening faster now.

BB: “Death of distance in the logistics field”? Explain more about that.

GK: We’re growing slower as a population and moving less. We’re having fewer kids. Suburban school districts are telling us that they aren’t seeing the student-to-new-home ratio that they experienced in the past. Remote working has already had effects on intra-national migration for employment, and it seems likely the pandemic and the lockdown experience for both workers and employers will only increase reliance on technology to shrink distances.

The two go on discuss to things city planners should consider within pandemic-driven trends.

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