Thursday, June 5, 2008

Suburbs, the Fifty Year Money Pit

Toronto Star: A Planning Headache Fifty Years in the Making.
The process will be excruciatingly difficult, but failure is not an option. Every day it becomes clearer and clearer that the suburban model so beloved by Americans and Canadians doesn't work. In fact, the need for change has reached a critical moment, a point of no return.
I was noodling on this, this morning while reading thru my daily housing crisis articles and economic indicators. Obviously, we have spent so much in the infrastructure of suburbs and with populations growing that the development on the land will not go away, it's all about densification, reorganization, and redesign into real, usable, social, interactive places. Just like city centers, but with less intensity.

Reading thru all of the forecast of sliding home prices, I started thinking about some of the truly bland tract housing neighborhoods. What possible value could they have? The buildings were built to last twenty years, if that, and they are on land so disconnected from any kind of services that future increases in energy prices will only drive the value of this land further down. There are homes that will see 100% losses, I'm convinced of it. Not to mention the fact that average income has dipped from 40K to 35K and on top of that the Dollar is weak. How can these factors possibly keep us even at 2000 housing price levels?