Is Sprawl Dead or Just Hibernating?

If the small city of Otsego, located 30 miles from Minneapolis, is a guide, sprawl may be poised to make a comeback as the housing market roars back to life. But larger indicators point to a withdrawal from sprawl.
September 16, 2013, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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During the housing bust of the last half-decade, suburban and edge developments were among the hardest hit by the decline in home prices and dip in construction, while the attraction of inner suburbs and urban centers held strong

Accordingly, during this time, "[t]he price of sprawl has become been increasingly undeniable," writes Shaila Dewan. "Moderate-income families have seen their transportation costs balloon to more than a quarter [PDF] of their income. Cities have discovered that low-density developments fail to pay for their own infrastructure. More recently, a new study of economic mobility suggested that sprawl, and its accompanying lack of transportation options, prevented access to higher paying jobs."

"Undoubtedly, cities have undergone a resurgence, bringing bike lanes and car-sharing, mixed-use rezoning and luxury rentals into vogue," she adds. "But some question remains as to how sweeping the change has been. In 2011, the National Association of Home Builders’ members reported that they expected their customers’ ideal home size to shrink. But the median home size in the country has continued to rise, reaching a record high in 2012 [PDF]."

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Published on Saturday, September 14, 2013 in The New York Times
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