from Discovering Urbanism: What will a recovery look like?

The Urban Land Institute and PriceWaterHouseCoopers has released their 2010 real estate forecast, a market analysis considered by many to be the most reputable in the industry. The first line gives a good impression of the tone of the report:

“More investors recognize massive losses—value declines will eventually total “40 to 50 percent” off market highs, propelled by lagging impacts of the deep recession.”

Other descriptive words from the first page: “savaged,” “debacle,” “even worse,” “enveloping gloom,” “doom,” “anemic demand,” “carnage,” “comatose,” “mammoth value busts.” (I didn’t see “apocalyptic” but I didn’t read the whole thing). You get the picture.

However, some smart growth advocates are seeing a silver lining in the fact that urban infill and redevelopment projects have shown to be more resilient than the typically housing on the exurban frontier of metropolitan areas.Kaid Benfield pulled out this quote from the report:

“Next-generation projects will ori ent to infill, urbanizing suburbs, and transit-oriented develop ment. Smaller housing units-close to mass transit, work, and 24-hour amenities-gain favor over large houses on big lots at the suburban edge. People will continue to seek greater convenience and want to reduce energy expenses. Shorter commutes and smaller heating bills make up for higher infill real estate costs.”

On the one hand, I see this as a hopeful sign for movement toward a more sustainable economy. On the other hand, I’m a little reluctant to cheer too loudly during a recession. The million dollar question, in my mind, is not what the best investment bets are during the low period (could these not simply be inferior goods?) but what kinds of development will usher us out of the recession entirely and into a new economic paradigm. continue reading article at

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