Reality Thins Out An Urban Vision

And here we go…

In Fairfax County’s official vision for Tysons Corner, thousands of
people live clustered around the Metro stops planned there — riding
the train or walking to work, leaving their cars at home and injecting
new life into the austere glass and concrete hub.

But in the
reality of developers’ blueprints, a different Tysons is emerging —
one with a population smaller than what county leaders have in mind.

A host of non-obvious  ills are going to accompany the housing slowdown, and this is one: lack of growth.  In order to change the urban landscape to reduce pollution and implement long-term land use planning, you’ve got to have growth.  People need to want to buy stuff, so builders can build it in the places the urban planners have designated.

When the market lulls, there’s no momentum, and you get stuck.  I’ve seen this in St. Louis when speaking to urban planners there trying to accomplish some regional goals.  They had zero growth in their business, which made it pretty much impossible to get anything done short of getting state money and starting their own development programs.  (Common sense tells you that ain’t gonna happen…)

And so begins the doldrums of the market for the next 18 months.

Link: Reality Thins Out An Urban Vision.


  1. Sarah on February 7, 2006 at 7:36 am

    The developer’s pusilanimous assertion that they can only make money selling larger units diverts from the truth: the lower priced/smaller units aren’t as profitable because middle/upper income residents suffer more quickly as interest rates go up. But what is most fascinating, and stupid, about the development is that they believe they’ll be able to sell all of the higher priced and larger units. Who in their right minds who can afford a large, high priced unit would want it in Tyson’s Corner? Why would they not want a similarily sized house? Eventually developments like this will be good for the economy as the units aren’t sold and the developers sell the entire buildings as apartments. There will be more housing on the market, and that will bring rental housing prices down.

  2. Chad Day on February 9, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    If you ever wanted to switch careers, you’d make a mint in the refinancing market.