So I went to see two new New Urbanist communities this weekend - Warwick Grove in the Mid-Hudson Valley, about 50 miles from NYC, and Plainsboro Village Center in central N.J.
I haven't generally drank the New Urbanist Kool-Aid - I'm a bit too fond of both the Old Urbanism and many of those things they love to hate (like those cool four-level freeway interchanges). But I gotta hand it to the developers of these two communities (Leyland Alliance and Sharbell Development, respectively) - these communities are about ten times better than what's being developed around them. You can walk to (some) shops, they are at impressively high densities, and they just look great, at least as great as a brand-new retro place can. I think these places are going to develop real character over time.
But you've gotta have big bucks to live there. At Warwick, a 2BR/2BA condo will set you back over $400k (and you'd better be over 55 - no kids, because, of course, kids = school taxes). At Plainsboro, prices start in the $530s for a townhouse.
I thought New Urbanism was supposed to help create a wider range of housing choices - with accessory apartments, starter homes, etc., combining with the higher densities to make things more affordable. Is it actually doing this anywhere? I'd love to hear from anyone who can describe a New Urbanist development that someone besides the wealthy can afford (and HOPE VI doesn't count - I'm talking about something that isn't publicly subsidized).
If these two developments are typical, then New Urbanism seems a bit more like nice looking houses for rich people than the revolution in development that its supporters proclaim.
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