Even in the Lehigh Valley, large, master planned suburban communities will be a thing of the past as city growth skyrockets.
That’s the perspective put forth by members of an urban renewal strategies panel presented by Urban Land Institute at the Cosmopolitan in Downtown Allentown Nov. 8.
“People also want to be in touch with one another,” said John McIlwaine, senior resident fellow/J. Ronald Terwilliger chairman for housing at ULI. “The old amenity of golf courses is out. The new amenity is people.”
As ‘Generation Y’, people in their late twenties and early thirties, becomes the new executive workforce, more and more of these young people want to live and work in cities, he added.
Urban is not “the” market, but a growing share of the market and although not everyone wants to live in an urban space, the rise of walkable urban neighborhoods is a clear trend that more developers are pursuing.
“America is starting to fall in love with its cities again,” said McIlwaine.
McIlwaine said the rise of urban centers is not just a trend for this decade, but many decades to come.
Successful urban spaces are safe, compact, authentic, have appropriate street level retail, offer the right mix of housing, and include public gathering areas, said McIlwaine.
Value-added, well-paying jobs are also a critical component of successful urban centers, particularly if they include technology businesses that support startups, said McIlwaine.
However, he said some challenges developers face include the higher costs of building housing in urban environments, outdated zoning rules, a lack of civic leadership, and a drop in bank loans.