Friday, April 25, 2008

Is Suburbia Dying?

There seems to be some credible numbers and evidence that the suburbs are dying. A recent NPR article points to more urban home prices are actually increasing slightly while suburban areas are taking a heavy hit. The sprawl that has taken place over the last few years has converted rural farmland into large yard starter homes. The foreclosure crisis and the high cost of commute is creating virtual ghost towns where 30-50 percent of homes may stand vacant and basically unsellable or unrentable as people can no longer afford the cost of gasoline for long commutes.

I was speaking to my father the other day who lives in the suburbs and his big complaint of the day was it took forever to get anywhere due to the traffic and congestion. I have noted myself that as the downtown of Indianapolis becomes more populated which has cause a substancial rise in near downtown neighborhoods that many suburban neighborhood primarily the west and east sides of town deteriorate. Crime has risen in those areas and their once popular shopping malls look like ghost towns. In fact one mall 'Eastgate' has closed down completely. Washington Square has lost several anchor tenants and its death seems close at hand. Despite efforts at revitilization Lafayette square Mall is a shadow of its former self. If one contrasts that with Circle Center Mall which has high occupancy and good tenants. There is even a website dedicated to shopping mall history

This is a trend that has been repeated in several cities across the country like Washington DC and Atlanta. In fact the only complaint I hear or reason why some wouldnt move back downtown is the quality of Education. It stands to reason that any city trying to revitalize it's downtown will need to improve Educational opportunities in k-12 to bring families back to urban living

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