THE RISE OF INFILL DEVELOPMENT
these new developments, and then industrial space is pushed further outside of the cities. This cyclical nature of real estate development is what helps build sustainable communities for us all to enjoy. Infill Development is the New Urban Planning There was a time when planned cities were all the rage among urban developers. The sheer success of places such as Canberra in Australia and Irvine in California fueled the expectations of urban planners who learned from the painful lessons of Brasilia and the Chinese ghost cities of Ordos Kangbashi; however, the collapse of the American real estate economy in 2008 presented a new challenge as these suburbs were becoming less affordable. In the midst of the American real estate bonanza that started shortly after the year 2000, master-planned
residential developments provided homeowners with suburban paradises often located far from commercial centers, and this was not much of a problem back then; household earners did not mind spending hours each month driving back and forth from work, schools, parks, malls, and movie theaters. With this lifestyle, suburban sprawl was not a concern since developers believed that prosperity would continue unabated, thus prompting future zoning and construction of commercial districts, office parks, schools, and infrastructure. Infill Development Returns to Downtown Areas Opportunities ripe for infill development were noticed during the exodus from the suburbs to urban centers. As population started moving into more urban settings, local housing markets became constrained due to low supply. Commercial developers noticed
urban centers becoming repopulated with a younger demographic.
In some downtown districts infill development has consisted of luxury condominium towers, some of them with mixed zoning provisions that allow merchants to set up shop on the lower levels. Elsewhere, historic districts near downtown areas have adjusted their zoning so that owners of renovated homes can operate cafés, boutiques and art galleries. In some places old car dealerships are converted to condominium projects with retail elements fronting major streets. These are examples of infill development initiatives that strike a commercial and residential balance, as they should in urban centers, and planners have preferred this kind of development as opposed to looking for greenfield opportunities that may be more affordable to develop, but that in the end will only contribute to sprawl outwards. “As population started moving into more urban settings, local housing markets became constrained due to low supply. Commercial developers noticed urban centers becoming repopulated with a younger demographic.”
MARCH 2018 | ATTOM DATA SOLUTIONS
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