Urban Issues

Inside Sydney's Central Business District: the Retail Core


World famous for its beautiful harbour setting, Sydney’s Central Business District is undergoing a resurgence. As the hub of Australia’s finance sector, it stumbled during the global crisis. Office vacancies jumped from 5.7 per cent in early 2008 to 8.8 per cent in mid 2009, despite stable supply. Ultimately, though, Sydney was spared the worst, owing to its rise as a staging post for trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, which averted the havoc of Europe and North America. Recovery is now underway, if slowly.  read more »

Listing the Best Places Lists: Perception Versus Reality


Often best places lists reflect as much on what’s being measured, and who is being measured as on the inherent advantages of any locale.  Some cities that have grown rapidly in jobs, for example, often do not do as well if the indicator has more to do with perceived “quality” of employment.  read more »

Orlando: Uncle Sam Meets Mickey Mouse


Hawks and doves disagree on whether World War II ended the Great Depression.  Depending on which species of bird squawks louder, military spending may be the only way out of our current financial malaise.  In many ways it is already happening, although it is a surreptitious and quiet influence felt mostly in the high-tech economic sector.  Defense growth in one of the most unlikely places – Orlando, Florida – has already begun to diversify the region’s income stream, create a new urban c  read more »

The Katrina Effect: Renaissance On The Mississippi


In this most insipid of recoveries, perhaps the most hopeful story comes from New Orleans. Today, its comeback story could serve as a model of regional recovery for other parts of the country — and even the world.

You could call it the Katrina effect. A lovely city, rich in history, all too comfortable with its fading elegance and marred by huge pockets of third-world style poverty, suffers a catastrophic natural disaster; in the end the disaster turns into an opportunity for the area’s salvation.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Jakarta (Jabotabek)


There is probably no large urban area in the world that better illustrates the continuing dispersion of urban population and declining urban population density than Jakarta. Recently released 2010 census data indicates over the past decade that 84 percent of the metropolitan area (Jabotabek) population growth occurred in the suburbs (Note 1). This continues a trend which saw more than 75 percent of growth in the suburbs between 1971 and 2000 (Figure 1).  read more »

Recover, Rebuild: Christchurch New Zealand After the Earthquake


Lincoln University in New Zealand did a great job of assembling some leaders in the principles and practice of disaster recovery for its Resilient Futures workshop recently in support of recovery in Christchurch after the February earthquake.  And in keeping with one of the themes – the importance of quality and timely communications – the papers and summary are already posted on the web.  read more »


Goodbye, New York State Residents are Rushing for the Exits


For more than 15 years, New York State has led the country in domestic outmigration: for every American who comes to New York, roughly two depart for other states. This outmigration slowed briefly following the onset of the Great Recession. But a new Marist poll released last week suggests that the rate is likely to increase: 36 percent of New Yorkers under 30 are planning to leave over the next five years.  read more »

Transit: The 4 Percent Solution


A new Brookings Institution report provides an unprecedented glimpse into the lack of potential for transit to make a more meaningful contribution to mobility in the nation's metropolitan areas. The report, entitled Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America, provides estimates of the percentage of jobs that can be accessed by transit in 45, 60 or 90 minutes, one-way, by residents of the 100 largest US metropolitan areas.  read more »

The Recipe for Unlivable Cities in New Zealand


The Auckland Council’s great vision is to make Auckland one of the world’s most livable cities. Yet the outcome of its currently proposed plans will be a city which is second best for most Aucklanders.

Some 60% to 80% of residents of New World cities state a clear preference for a single family home with its own backyard. In Victoria state, where Melbourne is located, 70% of the population, for example, preferred a single family home according to one government study. There have been similar findings from US based groups like the National Association of Realtors.  read more »

Asia’s New Landless Peasants?


Landless people have long sparked instability in Asia. From the days of the Qin dynasty (3rd century B.C.), through the huge Taiping rebellion in the mid-19th century, to the successful Communist revolutions in China and Vietnam and a nearly successful insurrection in Malaysia during the mid-20th, the property-less have historically risen against those in power.  read more »