Brookings Fellow, Planning Professor Chris Leinberger outlines, "The Death of the Fringe Suburb"
According to Brookings Institute senior fellow and Planning Professor Chris Leinberger, the collapse of the car-dependent suburban fringe was the predominant cause of the recent mortgage meltdown. After an analysis of the Zillow real estate database, Leinberger concludes that today's most expensive housing is located in high-density pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods of the center city and inner suburbs.
Unlike the late 1990's when most of the population was moving to high-end outer suburbs, the convergence of the baby boomers and the millennials has caused a profound structural shift in real estate. Leinberger claims, since baby boomers are now empty nesters approaching retirement, they're settling down in walkable urban areas. Additionally, the millennials just emerging from the nest also are moving to urban downtowns for the convenience of not having to own a car.
While this shift means a continued price decline for suburban fringe properties, it also means an increase in demand for centrally located neighborhoods and public transit systems. Leinberger suggests that in order to respond to this shift, we should reinvest in America's built environment in order to revive the construction trades and further lift our economic growth rate. "It is time to build what the market wants: mixed-income, walkable cities and suburbs that will support the knowledge economy, promote environmental sustainability, and create jobs."
For more and to read his The New York Times, Nov. 26, 2011, op-ed: click here