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USA Today: People Want to Live in Cities
posted in Economic Development // 05/21/12

Taking a look around the country, USA Today wrote about the trend of people increasingly wanting to live in more walkable urban environments and real estate developers responding to this demand.

“A housing industry slowly shaking off the worst economic conditions in decades is rethinking what type of housing to build and where to build it. It’s a response to a new wave of home buyers who have no desire to live in traditional subdivisions far from urban amenities.”

This is something we are seeing here in Atlanta too, with the revitalization of neighborhoods such as the Old Fourth Ward around the new Historic Fourth Ward Park and the West Midtown area. The article then spells out who is responsible for this shift:

“The market slowdown has given builders time to assess sweeping demographic changes that are transforming the way Americans want to live.

“Young Millennials and older Baby Boomers are rejecting traditional suburban lifestyles in favor of urban living and shorter commutes. Many want to live near city centers so they can walk to work, shops and restaurants or take public transportation. They also prefer smaller homes because they’re single or have no kids and don’t want to spend their free time maintaining their homes.”

Then this nugget of data:

“Latest Census data show that population growth in fringe counties nearly stopped in the 12 months that ended July 1, 2011, and urban counties at the center of metro areas grew faster than the nation as a whole, a USA TODAY analysis found.

“Central metro counties accounted for 94% of U.S. growth, compared with 85% just before the recession and housing bust.”

These national trends are on display here in Atlanta, particularly around the Atlanta BeltLine, where there has been more than $1 billion in new development since 2005.  This map below shows where this new development has been occurring.

Development Activity Around the Atlanta BeltLine


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