Economist predicts migration from ATL center to outer ‘burbs

Jed Kolko, chief economist for online real estate search site Trulia, predicts that low home prices in the outer regions of metro Atlanta will lure urban dwellers away from the city to lower-density areas.

A quote from the AJC article:

"A lot of the search behavior we see is from the central [Atlanta] metro area to some of the smaller lower-density nearby areas.

…Realizing that by moving to the suburbs they can buy a home, many urban dwellers will also add to this future demand as they gravitate away from big cities toward suburban and smaller metros,” Kolko predicted.

Kolko is basing this on Trulia search data (apparently Trulia’s data doesn’t include info about the wretched commute for people who live far from jobs in ATL).

Until the ‘burbs have a massive re-zoning effort to accommodate the growing desire for walkable, mixed-use areas and lower commute times, I give this prediction a big thumbs down.

It’s true that walkable areas can (and will some day) exist outside the urban core via suburban retro-fitting. But not enough of them currently do to lure urbanites away. I can’t imagine giving up my pedestrian-friendly downtown neighborhood just to take advantage of a low-mortgage house in a subdivision outside the city.

drawingnothing:

I thought this was interesting. What surface parking lots did to Cleaveland’s warehouse district (which is a nationally recognized historic district, oops). 
1960s vs today.
Shit like this needs to stop but you still see it happening even today in cities around the country. What a sad waste.

It looks like someone dropped a car-centricity bomb on their downtown. It devastated parts the urban fabric and turned blocks of land into an asphalt apocalypse.
This is, of course, sadly familiar. There are many sections of downtown Atlanta that look as bad as this if not worse. The area around the Garnett MARTA station, in particular, looks like a bombed-out war zone due to the leveling of beautiful old buildings over the decades in favor of surface parking lots for commuters.

drawingnothing:

I thought this was interesting. What surface parking lots did to Cleaveland’s warehouse district (which is a nationally recognized historic district, oops). 

1960s vs today.

Shit like this needs to stop but you still see it happening even today in cities around the country. What a sad waste.

It looks like someone dropped a car-centricity bomb on their downtown. It devastated parts the urban fabric and turned blocks of land into an asphalt apocalypse.

This is, of course, sadly familiar. There are many sections of downtown Atlanta that look as bad as this if not worse. The area around the Garnett MARTA station, in particular, looks like a bombed-out war zone due to the leveling of beautiful old buildings over the decades in favor of surface parking lots for commuters.

Atlanta’s history of walkable urbanism
Reading various news articles and blog posts about Atlanta and its urban developments, I sometimes come across a peculiar sentiment. Some residents of Atlanta’s intown, detached-home suburbs, who are understandably proud of the distinct beauty of their neighborhoods, can be a little over-protective of them when discussing developments in the more dense urban areas.Our neighborhoods of craftsman bungalows and other homes have incredible charm, but I disagree with the sentiment that I’ve read here and there that they define Atlanta’s personality as a city. Some people seem to have the opinion that efforts to create more dense neighborhoods (and expansions of transit to serve them) are somehow at odds with the city’s true character.I’ve posted this photo above, taken from the “Views of Atlanta and the Cotton States and International Exposition" (printed for the 1885 Atlanta Exposition), to serve as a reminder that walkable urban density in Atlanta existed before the 20th-century bungalow neighborhoods were constructed. Atlanta has a legacy of walkable density that predates car culture by decades.
It is, in fact, the rapid and unchecked expansion of detached-home neighborhoods that fueled car dependency in the city — a dependency that created a need for the parking structures that have damaged the walkable, urban character of many downtown streets.
Atlanta has a great combination of detached-home neighborhoods and more dense ones centered around multi-family buildings — all mixed in with commercial spaces — with the beautiful native hardwood trees sprouting up all inside the mix. It’s this mixture that defines the city. As we move forward, I hope to see improvements in pedestrian/bike-friendly connections between neighborhoods that have come to be separated by car infrastructure over the decades.

Atlanta’s history of walkable urbanism

Reading various news articles and blog posts about Atlanta and its urban developments, I sometimes come across a peculiar sentiment. Some residents of Atlanta’s intown, detached-home suburbs, who are understandably proud of the distinct beauty of their neighborhoods, can be a little over-protective of them when discussing developments in the more dense urban areas.

Our neighborhoods of craftsman bungalows and other homes have incredible charm, but I disagree with the sentiment that I’ve read here and there that they define Atlanta’s personality as a city. Some people seem to have the opinion that efforts to create more dense neighborhoods (and expansions of transit to serve them) are somehow at odds with the city’s true character.

I’ve posted this photo above, taken from the “Views of Atlanta and the Cotton States and International Exposition" (printed for the 1885 Atlanta Exposition), to serve as a reminder that walkable urban density in Atlanta existed before the 20th-century bungalow neighborhoods were constructed. Atlanta has a legacy of walkable density that predates car culture by decades.

It is, in fact, the rapid and unchecked expansion of detached-home neighborhoods that fueled car dependency in the city — a dependency that created a need for the parking structures that have damaged the walkable, urban character of many downtown streets.

Atlanta has a great combination of detached-home neighborhoods and more dense ones centered around multi-family buildings — all mixed in with commercial spaces — with the beautiful native hardwood trees sprouting up all inside the mix. It’s this mixture that defines the city. As we move forward, I hope to see improvements in pedestrian/bike-friendly connections between neighborhoods that have come to be separated by car infrastructure over the decades.

Population growth in centers of urban density

A post on New Urban Network confirms a suspicion I had after reading about population decline in Chicago: though some cities are seeing an overall decline in population, those same places are seeing dramatic population growth in their most dense, walkable urban zones:
Bad news for cities, good news for urban centers

This is good news for urban livability in both Chicago and St Louis. I’m particularly glad to see that downtown St Louis has made big gains in population after the good investments they’ve made in their downtown public parks.

To sum up: cities owe it to their long-term health to invest in developing more livable urban centers versus suburban-type sprawl within their limits. People who want to live in sprawlburbs are moving out of cities and people who want urban walkability are moving in. The proof is in the census numbers.

As we continue to debate smart growth & densification efforts in Atlanta, let’s keep these trends in mind. Maintaining Atlanta’s suburbs-in-the-city elements may not be worth the effort. Walkable urban density is the way of the future for cities.