Planning

Are 20th Century Models Relevant to 21st Century Urbanization?

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Analysis of the state of the world’s cities 2010/2011 by UN-Habitat focused on the narrowing urban divide, with 227 million people moving out of slum conditions over the preceding decade.  While acknowledging uncertainty over cause and effect, the report notes that:  read more »

What Boomers Are Choosing

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In 1989, a man came to my office and introduced himself as the vice president of development for the Del Webb Corporation.  He retained my firm to prepare a master plan for their first active-adult community outside of their typical desert southwest market. 

This led me to an exploration of what made a successful active adult community.  I learned they required unique and distinct considerations quite different from those used in more conventional master planned communities.  During the information gathering process, I toured each of the Sun City projects, interviewing staff and visiting residents to understand the qualities and features which attracted buyers and provided the lifestyle sought by retirees.   read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Milan

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Italy's population growth has been stagnating in recent decades, but has turned around during the last decade, with the annual growth rate increasing 16 times (from 0.04 percent to 0.69 percent). According to United Nations data, Italy added more international migrants in the 2000s (3.8.5 million) than it added people in any ten year period since 1960. Some of the strongest growth has been in the Milan metropolitan region, which has begun to grow again after years of stagnation.  read more »

The Ambiguous Triumph of the “Urban Age”

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In its State of the Population report in 2007, the United Nations Population Fund made this ringing declaration:  “In 2008, the world reaches an invisible but momentous milestone: For the first time in history, more than half its human population, 3.3 billion people, will be living in urban areas.”  read more »

High-density Housing Reflects Dense Government Thinking

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Citizens in Australia’s major cities are becoming increasingly unhappy about what they perceive as the escalating deterioration in their quality of life - traffic congestion, overloaded public transport, unaffordable housing for young people, increases in the costs of basic services and overcrowding. There is little doubt that recent election results and unfavourable opinion polls are partly an expression of this dissatisfaction.  read more »

Suburbanized Core Cities

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The suburbs of major metropolitan areas captured the overwhelming majority of population growth between 2000 and 2010, actually increasing their share of growth, as has been previously reported. However, it is often not understood that much of the recent central city (Note 1) growth has actually been suburban in nature, rather than core densification. In fact, historical core cities (Note 2) vary substantially.  read more »

Dulles Metrorail Silver Line Vs Bus Rapid Transit

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Long overdue rapid transit service from Washington DC to Dulles airport is now under construction. The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, known as the Silver Line, may seem like it was an obvious choice as a way to improve the region's public transportation. Construction began in March 2009, and service is expected to begin by 2013. As those who have used bus service from the DC area to the airport can attest, the current system — a regular city bus equipped with luggage racks — is inadequate. The buses are low capacity, and are not designed for highway driving.  read more »

Commercial Real Estate: Shrinking to Fit

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We are going to need less commercial real estate in the future, at least on a per-unit-of-population basis. Advances in communications technology are causing profound and sometimes unanticipated changes in our lives.

Retail Markets
The coming change is most obvious in retail markets. Americans are increasingly shopping online. However, we’ve really just started to scratch the surface. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2009 E-Stats report issued in May, 2011, E-commerce only accounted for 3.99 percent of U.S. retail sales in 2009.  read more »

Queensland’s Future: Diverse and Dispersed

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I was recently asked to outline my thoughts on how the Queensland urban landscape might look 40 to 50 years from now.  Go on, you can laugh.  I did too.  It’s hard enough to forecast the next 12 months, let alone two generations away, but I’ve given it a go, of sorts, so here it is:  read more »

Banana-nomics

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The price of bananas is again making headlines as it pushes up inflation and threatens rising interest rates. But what’s the price of the humble ‘nana got to do with property markets? Plenty.

Banana prices have risen almost 500% since Cyclone Yasi wiped out much of north Queensland’s banana crop earlier this year. The immutable laws of supply and demand dictate that when supply falls relative to demand, prices will rise.  read more »