Saturday, January 16, 2010

Development: More Questions Than Answers

Urban Pioneering
Mixed-Income Housing
Work-Force Housing

All these terms have many connotations and some serve as euphemisms for less 'attractive' practices and most of it is somewhat confusing to me and potentially counter productive for sustainable infill projects of the type I am currently involved in.

How to get banks to partner with communities to build affordable housing in a working class neighborhood when the comps don't match up? It seems impossible. There are many reports and studies that indicate that affordable housing doesn't negatively effect middle class neighborhoods. Would the inverse have to be the case? Would building a relatively middle class home in a working class neighborhood necessarily bring the value of the home down?

There are many studies indicating that mixed income neighborhoods can help end the cycle of poverty. Most cities were born with mixed income planning and it seems to me (as a matter of observation) that the automobile brought upon the undoing of economic integration as part of the urban fabric.

Now, as many struggle to protect and preserve our environment and our historic building stock it seems that transit oriented development, mixed income and mixed use development are considered solutions to our current concerns. These kinds of projects will reduce our dependence on the automobile, keep workers near work and contribute to a vibrant cultural life.

It seems to me that current real estate appraisal practices and lending practices have not grown/changed in ways which will easily accommodate new development patterns. I still have far more questions than answers but I hope a dialogue can be expanded to integrate all the stakeholders in a meaningful way so that urban and inner ring redevelopment can be a model of sustainability, fairness and pride for our region.

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