Saturday, April 12, 2008

If Density is the Key to Economic Growth; Are Condos the Key to Density?

We recently wrote that older suburbs may become the new urban cities if public policy in those areas would favor density (See below, "Will the old suburbs become the new urban core?).  Now, Richard Florida, writing in The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2008 gives us the economic justification for such policies, he states: "...our public policy must work toward, not against, density. Nearly every expert on the subject agrees that innovation and productivity are driven by density. For the better part of a century, we've subsidized suburbanization."  He goes on to show that big cities and economic "mega-regions" are the primary creators of wealth.  Suburban areas with low density populations consume, but rarely produce sufficiently to meet their own consumption. 
If so, condominiums and multi-family rental housing are the key to higher density and conversion of old inefficient suburbs to productive, high energy economic zones. We're talking urban condominiums, however, not suburban projects that spread over acres of open space without proximity to transportation and jobs. Urban, high-rise condominiums fit the model of the new urban areas we discussed earlier, and if, as Florida holds, higher density produces more innovation, then greater use of high-rise housing in an urban environment should be a national priority.

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