What Will Save the Suburbs?

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What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby BSykes » Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:11 am

Most of us knew that the type of expansion that has been taking place over the past several years was unsustainable...

This post is worth reading:

http://arieff.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01 ... e-suburbs/

Here's the first paragraph:

What Will Save the Suburbs?

"For a long time now I’ve been obsessed with suburban and exurban master-planned communities and how to make them better. But as the economy and the mortgage crisis just seem to get worse, and gas prices continue to plunge, the issues around housing have changed dramatically. The problem now isn’t really how to better design homes and communities, but rather what are we going to do with all the homes and communities we’re left with ..."

Also... google Abandoned Suburbs. See how many similar articles/blog posts pop up.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby DaveKCMO » Tue Apr 28, 2009 2:29 pm

undevelopment. best new term of the year! return those plots to nature.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby aknowledgeableperson » Wed Apr 29, 2009 12:02 am

Well, given an article a few weeks back about where the job growth is (to areas outside of a 10 mile radius of downtowns throughout the country) it looks like jobs will save the suburbs.
I may be right.  I may be wrong.  But there is a lot of gray area in-between.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby KCMax » Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:27 am

The predictions of the demise of suburbs are a bit premature IMO.
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby DaveKCMO » Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:20 am

KCMax wrote:The predictions of the demise of suburbs are a bit premature IMO.




city centers nearly died. not sure anyone would have accurately predicted how low it got.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby Midtownkid » Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:25 am

Good point.  And, back in the 1970s a lot of people probably couldn't imagine American cities would have such a great comeback.  NYC was a bankrupt shit hole back then.  Now, most of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn are almost impossible to live in without being rich or being able to get by with huge sacrifices.  We've made a lot of progress!
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby bahua » Mon May 04, 2009 10:16 am

As long as gasoline remains the unequivocally cheapest fuel source(and it will continue to be so until it's well beyond the budget of most drivers), the suburbs will thrive and keep expanding.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby aknowledgeableperson » Mon May 04, 2009 10:24 am

And not just gasoline.  As other power sources for autos come into play the suburbs will continue to grow.  And they will grow because that is where jobs are, not just in the city's core.

Cheap gas may have fueled the growth of suburbs in the past but job growth will fuel it in the future.
I may be right.  I may be wrong.  But there is a lot of gray area in-between.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby bahua » Mon May 04, 2009 10:27 am

Yep. The market will create new, more efficient and viable forms of fuel. That's the way it is. If you ask me, the suburbs aren't going anywhere.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby Midtownkid » Mon May 04, 2009 11:25 am

It also depends on how future generations view the burbs.  If they continue to get a reputation of being boring and bad for the environment and cities keep getting better and safer, there could be a reverse 'flight' out of the burbs into the city.  We have seen this start to happen in other cities, although it is not a total flight.  Who knows what the future holds!
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby bahua » Mon May 04, 2009 11:29 am

It will be a difficult, but not impossible transition in people's minds, from the flawed but widely-held belief that suburbs are automatically the best place for raising children. That works pretty heavily against cities too.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby chrizow » Mon May 04, 2009 11:32 am

viable public schools (by a suburbanite's standards) in the city would do more than anything to keep people in the city as well as attract people from the suburbs.  until that happens, people will continue to leave (and stay away).  there are a lot of people in KC who love the city, urban living, etc., that bolt for JoCo when their kids approach school age because of the lack of options in the city.  just keeping these people would do wonders for KC. 

who cares what will save the suburbs?  just return them to nature.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby LenexatoKCMO » Mon May 04, 2009 11:38 am

Indeed - I think fashion, taste, and convenience will be what ultimately makes the most dramatic change, not gas prices.  I think a large part of the population is already starting to come around to the realization that there are a lot of distasteful aspects to suburban living they have been overlooking all these years and people seem to want something different - its just getting past some of the "practical" concerns like schools and costs. 

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby Highlander » Mon May 04, 2009 1:46 pm

bahua wrote:Yep. The market will create new, more efficient and viable forms of fuel. That's the way it is. If you ask me, the suburbs aren't going anywhere.


The ideal that more efficient forms of fuel will be available is a reach.  Physics make that unlikely.  The leading candidates to replace gasoline either need to be 1) converted to a portable and a usable form of energy in a process that takes nearly, if not as much, energy than they yield such as biofuels and hydrogen or 2) or exist as stored energy that have limited range and will challenge the convenience of the suburbs.  Consequently, the result will necassarily be a higher unit cost than we spend on energy at the moment or even last summer.  While I have no doubt suburbs won't be going anywhere soon, cost will eventually overcome the suburban inertia.  I don't think it's going to be what's accessible or affordable by private vehicles that rule the future distribution of people in a city but access to public transportation.  But it will be a slow evolution fueled at times by energy cost panic.

As for jobs being in the burbs, they could overnight be moved to city centers.  I don't think the burbs will disappear but nor will they cease to be job centers but they will need to become denser so public transportation can better serve them.   

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby bahua » Mon May 04, 2009 1:50 pm

I'm not saying I have the slightest idea what the future will hold, but the market will make it happen.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby LenexatoKCMO » Mon May 04, 2009 2:09 pm

I saw an interesting TV piece on Tyson's Corner, VA here recently that somewhat relates to the jobs in the suburbs discussion.  For those who are unfamiliar - Tyson's was one of the first and most successful large scale efforts at developing a suburban office hub.  Fast forward to 2009 and the place is apparently starting to choke to death on its own traffic congestion.  There is some ludicrous percentage of folks that commute there 9-5 since it is essentially just a massive suburban office park with no residential - thus EVERYONE drives there.  They have pretty well reached their maximum capacity on highway/arterial access and its still damn near impossible to get in and out of.  Apparently the vehicular traffic is so bad that it is now having a serious negative impact on the commercial real estate value.  The city leaders are trying to combat this by going back in and building infill with dense residential towers in place of parking.  The thought being that if they can get people to live in amongst all of the office complexes, it will alleviate the traffic.  Ironically, they are trying to "save" a suburb by turning it into a real city. 
Last edited by LenexatoKCMO on Mon May 04, 2009 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby Midtownkid » Mon May 04, 2009 3:17 pm

LenexatoKCMO wrote:I saw an interesting TV piece on Tyson's Corner, VA. [...] Ironically, they are trying to "save" a suburb by turning it into a real city. 


Yes, that is a good and funny example.  They are trying to build a new metro stop there and turn that into a more 'urban area' like you said.  It seems like anywhere there is a metro stop in DC, development follows (Come on KC...light rail or better yet a subway!!!)  I HATE the tysons area and avoid it at all costs.  The traffic really is horrid and the cityscape is so disgusting...makes college boulevard look pretty.  They do have 2 pretty amazing malls there too, but that only makes traffic worse.  It will be interesting to see what happens to the area in the coming years.

While we are on the subject of DC...I have been noticing a ton of baby strollers and toddlers running around Capitol Hill in the last year I have been working here.  Not every one makes a break for the burbs.  It's really cool that semi-wealthy, eco-minded/progressive families remain in this city even with DC's horrible schools and bad rep for crime.  This area (eastern market) is really amazing and would have been really cool to grow up in.  It actually reminds me of Roanoke and Volker in KC as far as who lives around here and all the kids etc.  I think east coast cities are retaining families more than they used to and maybe at a higher rate than places like KC.  Think of a place like Manhattan...aren't there tons of families there?
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby Midtownkid » Mon May 04, 2009 3:19 pm

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby KCMax » Mon May 04, 2009 3:33 pm

Midtownkid wrote:While we are on the subject of DC...I have been noticing a ton of baby strollers and toddlers running around Capitol Hill in the last year I have been working here.  Not every one makes a break for the burbs.  It's really cool that semi-wealthy, eco-minded/progressive families remain in this city even with DC's horrible schools and bad rep for crime. 


DC's new superintendent is being hailed by some as a wunderkind not afraid to take on teacher's unions and fire unproductive administrators.
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby AJoD » Mon May 04, 2009 3:50 pm

KCMax wrote:DC's new superintendent is being hailed by some as a wunderkind not afraid to take on teacher's unions and fire unproductive administrators.


Here's a good article from The Atlantic last fall: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200811/michelle-rhee

[Disclosure: Author is a friend of mine from grad school.]


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