Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"The Era of Bling is Coming to a Close"

From Christian Science Monitor:
Cooke & Co. was the Bear Stearns of its time, a pillar of national finance. If it could fail, anyone could, and the US stock market collapsed that awful autumn. The price of real estate, railroads, and other hard assets crashed, too. Banks fell like wheat before a reaper. Deprived of credit, Main Street commerce suffered. Unemployment reached 25 percent in big cities. The Panic of 1873 eventually led to 18,000 business bankruptcies. National production shrank for six years. Yet a new and stronger US economy emerged from the wreckage.
I have to say though, that I disagree with #10 - The Bust of the Boom Towns. As long as we are accepting "growth" as the axiom our society, economy, and standard of success is measured by, the Boom Towns still have the most work to do. Reason 1, why I am here in Texas.

Yes, they boomed. But that economy of growth was a false one in cities such as DFW, PHX, and Vegas. 99% of what was constructed was worthless. In the cities of the Northeast, not much growth is expected, if at all. What growth will occur will be simply putting people back to work with minor deviations in what they are actually doing.

Here, we have the most work ahead of us in terms of overall reorganization of both people AND economies. Much of the economic growth was in Real Estate and it played out on the land with exponential quantitative spatial growth vastly outpacing population growth.

If this City is smart they will get on the ball and set up a streamlined zoning, entitlement, and approval process for mixed-use, mid- to high-density development AT LEAST in set areas, such as Leinberger suggesting that Dallas needs ten 100-acre high density overlays. If they set up these overlays now, the planning work can get started and developers will be ready to build in ten months or two years, whenever the lending purse strings loosen again (or if again means never, then we need to find a new way to finance these things).

We know the market is there and the demand is there. As I wrote here, Millennials are the largest demographic group (aka "market") in American history and they are redefining the world around them through their shear mass, vitality, and collective directed vigor.

It will be a race for Sun Belt cities to not only be "cool" again to compete for talent in an ultra-competitive and mobile knowledge/creative economy (where real economic growth is created thru startups and innovation), but also in order to be relevant. If not for the Real Estate industry fixing its mistakes, I'm not sure what other markets are out there to pull the Sun Belt cities out of a certain prolonged recession.