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Old 02-06-2013, 01:09 PM
 
Location: Philaburbia
32,401 posts, read 59,899,964 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
When gas was cheap, land was more plentiful, and commuting was less of a concern (though, it could have already been problematic) "the market" preferred detached SFHs. Now, the context has changed and "the market" (suppliers and consumers) has changed with it.
How does that explain developments of townhouses on former cornfields out in the exurbs? Other than land being cheaper ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Tired Man View Post
they make more money from it than single family homes
There you go. And so will the government jurisdictions.

Last edited by Ohiogirl81; 02-06-2013 at 01:27 PM..
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:22 PM
 
226 posts, read 195,168 times
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Dark Economist said:
In the Bay area, land is scarce. Building townhomes, condos, and apartments is, therefore, a direct response to land price (developers want to maximize profit, consumers may not be able to afford a detached SFH) and to the preferences of the high-tech millennial crowd, which differ from those of Baby Boomers and Generation X.

Land isn't scarce in the Bay Area but buildable land is. The shortage is driven in large measure by governmental restrictions on where one can develop land for housing. SoCal has the same issue. Not saying those restrictions are bad or that they don't enjoy strong public support (that's another discussion), but one can't ignore their effect on land prices.
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:13 PM
 
3,836 posts, read 4,718,594 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Tired Man View Post
There has been a thousand stories in the news of late promoting the glories of dense development even in places where land is cheaper and goes on forever. These are planted stories to encourage people to accept more of this type of development and make it seem hip.

Lots of time the developers and the local officals control the agenda because they don't build smaller homes on 1/4 acre lots like they used to, so if someone wants a single family home they are forced to buy something older or change their mind and buy a townhouse kicking and screaming. I know lots of my friends in Northern VA living in townhouses and condos would love to live in a newer single family home but in the last 15 years nearly every single family home that is detached is a huge estate style model. So it out of reach. One thing I like about the south is they still build smaller single family detached homes with grass and trees at reasonable prices.
1. If there is no demand, there will be no financing, the projects will never get built. If one or two does AND they're a failure then that will be that.

OTOH - if they're not a failure - that is evidence of demand. There is no other explanation.

2. Norther VA is an incredibly expensive part of the country. Land is valuable. If someone wants a SF detached home in Norther VA they can get one - for a price. Town Homes offer value and options to those who can't pay the price of admission.

3. Land is cheap in the south. No surprise that SF detached are more affordable. Even there though, there is increasingly a demand for denser types of developments and people are making lifestyle choices (less space, closer in, more time)
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:16 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 25 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,016 posts, read 102,674,652 times
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The DC area has some of the biggest lot sizes I have seen. 1/4 acre seems to be just a start. Here in CO, it's much different. Lafayette, CO has a minimum lot size of 5000 square feet (or did when we lived there anyway). The minimum quickly became the maximum. You can get more houses in a development that way.
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:36 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,443 posts, read 11,948,134 times
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I don't live in a suburb. I live in an urban neighborhood with 19th century brick rowhouses, so I'll ignore the "in your community" part.

In general I don't think it's needed for there to be special regulations forcing more density. In many cases zoning needs to be altered to allow for higher density however. Parking minimums can be the most damaging, as if they are set too high it effectively requires suburban-style development - even if it's townhouses, you'll end up with a sea of parking which occupies a greater or equal square footage.

Once requirements are eased, the market will build denser housing where it can be accommodated. Generally speaking it's unlikely that developers will buy out small SFH (even if it's blighted) and put in townhouses - they'll wait for large plots to become available. However, given the number of units per square foot of ground, it can be highly profitable to put mid or highrise apartment buildings on land which SFH formerly occupied if it's in a great location, such as near a mass transit station.

The way suburban-style townhouses are often done, however, doesn't compare in any real way to city rowhouses. They usually aren't put on the main streets, but tucked away like a subdivision. And they have large amounts of useless green space in public places which the landlord or condo association has to maintain. Worst is the sea of parking which often faces the front sides of the units. I think it's no surprise that such places have catered to lower-income people, because they provide "subdivision living" on a budget, and nothing more.

Much better is TOD-style development with some new urbanist elements. People who want townhouses often want access to public transit, a nearby walkable business district, and other aspects of urban life. There is no reason why the suburbs cannot provide for those, although in practice it has yet to be fully embraced by any developer that I'm aware of.
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:37 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
45,992 posts, read 42,026,386 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
The DC area has some of the biggest lot sizes I have seen. 1/4 acre seems to be just a start.
Isn't Pittsburgh even higher?

Long Island has some really large lots in sections, but not so much in others. I went for a bike ride with some from Northern Virginia and he thought the lots were really small for expensive-looking homes.

Edit: some in that region were large. This one's lot size is unlisted!

http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/(u...17618041_zpid/

Last edited by nei; 02-06-2013 at 02:46 PM..
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:40 PM
 
2,553 posts, read 2,007,216 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tifoso View Post
Dark Economist said:
In the Bay area, land is scarce. Building townhomes, condos, and apartments is, therefore, a direct response to land price (developers want to maximize profit, consumers may not be able to afford a detached SFH) and to the preferences of the high-tech millennial crowd, which differ from those of Baby Boomers and Generation X.

Land isn't scarce in the Bay Area but buildable land is. The shortage is driven in large measure by governmental restrictions on where one can develop land for housing. SoCal has the same issue. Not saying those restrictions are bad or that they don't enjoy strong public support (that's another discussion), but one can't ignore their effect on land prices.
Thank you. I took the distinction as given. Either way you look at it, the land cannot be developed.
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:48 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 25 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,016 posts, read 102,674,652 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I don't live in a suburb. I live in an urban neighborhood with 19th century brick rowhouses, so I'll ignore the "in your community" part.

In general I don't think it's needed for there to be special regulations forcing more density. In many cases zoning needs to be altered to allow for higher density however. Parking minimums can be the most damaging, as if they are set too high it effectively requires suburban-style development - even if it's townhouses, you'll end up with a sea of parking which occupies a greater or equal square footage.

Once requirements are eased, the market will build denser housing where it can be accommodated. Generally speaking it's unlikely that developers will buy out small SFH (even if it's blighted) and put in townhouses - they'll wait for large plots to become available. However, given the number of units per square foot of ground, it can be highly profitable to put mid or highrise apartment buildings on land which SFH formerly occupied if it's in a great location, such as near a mass transit station.

The way suburban-style townhouses are often done, however, doesn't compare in any real way to city rowhouses. They usually aren't put on the main streets, but tucked away like a subdivision. And they which the landlord or condo association has to maintain. Worst is the sea of parking which often faces the front sides of the units. I think it's no surprise that such places have catered to lower-income people, because they provide "subdivision living" on a budget, and nothing more.

Much better is TOD-style development with some new urbanist elements. People who want townhouses often want access to public transit, a nearby walkable business district, and other aspects of urban life. There is no reason why the suburbs cannot provide for those, although in practice it has yet to be fully embraced by any developer that I'm aware of.
Holy Guacamole! (This is Colorado reporting, after all!) Many people value "have large amounts of useless green space in public places", just to look at, if nothing else.

Would you pay higher fees to save open land in your community from development?
Developing a thousand acre wooded site, what is the best option?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Isn't Pittsburgh even higher?
You know, I'm not sure. Where I grew up, the suburban lots were bigger than city lots but not huge. According to zillow, my parents' home had about 8000 sq. ft, and that was a "double" lot. There are some areas outside of Sewickley, which is way closer to Pittsburgh than Patterson Hts, that are on several acres. However, I don't think that's the majority of homes in that area.
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:56 PM
 
2,553 posts, read 2,007,216 times
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Somewhat off-topic, I was told once that, beyond parking requirements, banks won't finance developments without some minimum of parking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I don't live in a suburb. I live in an urban neighborhood with 19th century brick rowhouses, so I'll ignore the "in your community" part.

In general I don't think it's needed for there to be special regulations forcing more density. In many cases zoning needs to be altered to allow for higher density however. Parking minimums can be the most damaging, as if they are set too high it effectively requires suburban-style development - even if it's townhouses, you'll end up with a sea of parking which occupies a greater or equal square footage.

Once requirements are eased, the market will build denser housing where it can be accommodated. Generally speaking it's unlikely that developers will buy out small SFH (even if it's blighted) and put in townhouses - they'll wait for large plots to become available. However, given the number of units per square foot of ground, it can be highly profitable to put mid or highrise apartment buildings on land which SFH formerly occupied if it's in a great location, such as near a mass transit station.

The way suburban-style townhouses are often done, however, doesn't compare in any real way to city rowhouses. They usually aren't put on the main streets, but tucked away like a subdivision. And they have large amounts of useless green space in public places which the landlord or condo association has to maintain. Worst is the sea of parking which often faces the front sides of the units. I think it's no surprise that such places have catered to lower-income people, because they provide "subdivision living" on a budget, and nothing more.

Much better is TOD-style development with some new urbanist elements. People who want townhouses often want access to public transit, a nearby walkable business district, and other aspects of urban life. There is no reason why the suburbs cannot provide for those, although in practice it has yet to be fully embraced by any developer that I'm aware of.
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Old 02-06-2013, 03:24 PM
 
Location: Canada
4,699 posts, read 8,499,560 times
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I'm gonna differ from some of the other posters here, actually. I see the benefits of densificaiton, but only when it's supported by strong transit and solid community plannning that helps creat walkable neighbourhoods. If you just densify a big, autocentric suburb willy nilly you're going to just get more traffic on the highways as ever more people try to drive into work and congestion will becoming unbearable.

In my experiences with densifying Canadian suburbs in rapidly growing cities that have bad traffic, the strategy that works best, bar none, is focusing all that densification into specific neighbourhoods or corridors to build little town centres or downtowns for the suburb. This created a local amenity for people in the suburb to visit and increased their propety values because they're suddenly close to a downtown core with lots of things to visit. It is thus much more easy to make happen, politically, than forcing people to grudgingly abide patchy densification all over the suburb, which can look a bit strange if not done right. Cities need to be engaged, however, in helping make this happen, and so it requires a bit of effort on their part. The city of Surrey and the City of Mississauga both built beautiful new city halls featuring grand public squares in their intended new downtowns to serve as amenities to attract high density development there. They also attracted small university campuses to the downtown and in the case of surrey built a new library there. This helped spur the construction of new condo towers and office towers in the district and both are on their way to having good donwtown destinations that will serve their cities and allow them to continue to grow after all of the greenfields are built out. Another factor that seems to make these sorts of developments successful is the presence of a mall so that the first people to move there already have an abundance of retail walkable from their homes. I know, it's ironic to build a downtown around a mall, the symbol of the autocentric world, but it's what works and I've seen the pattern repeated in seven different new built suburban downtowns now.

Most important of all is strong and frequent transit connections to the new town centre you build. When you just add townhouses all over the place there's no way transit could possibly pick up the slack so eventually you're ending up with streets crowded with traffic and popular places that eventually have insufficient parking, lowering quality of life. If, however, you've got your town centre as the hub of a good bus network for the suburb and there's fast and frequent service to the city centre, such as with express buses or LRT, then your town centre can be very successful and people who choose to live there will often try and get by with only one car per family and can afford to drive much less often, especially with so many amenities walkable from their apartment buildings or townhouses (but honestly, townhouses are often not dense enough for this, most housing has to be taller condos for it to really work well). This preserves the lifestyle of the existing suburban residents while providing them an office and amenities hub as well as development fees that they might want to cash in on in a growing metro rather than letting further out suburbs absorb all the benefits of growth.
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