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Sunday, September 30, 2007

 

The new phase of "new urbanism"

A recent article in the New York Times mentioned how many suburban ares are turning old malls into life-style centers. Where people live just above the mall or as they would like to call it. Upscale retailers, condos, and restaurants are built around what looks like a city street. One company in Boston is spending $370 million to turn an old mall in to a life- style center. They say that people will be excited about these developments because it is like living in the city but you are still in the suburbs. Are these kinds of developments really what people are looking for where down town is down stairs? It's almost as if they are building a downtown for older people who still want to live in the suburbs. As I continued to read the article I thought sure these places are nice but are they worth it? My initial guess would be no, people are not willing to give up their homes just to move into a condo above a mall. The article went on to mention that only 15% of the units had been sold since March. So, this also says to me that people are not willing to move into these "new urban" yet suburban developments. Sure the center is just being built so people are a little hesitant because they are not sure what it is going to look like; however, the price tag for these condos are quite steep. These condos start at $425,000 and go up to $1.6 million. I think that people would much rather get a house with some land starting at that price. Also, I think that the developers will see that the mall does well because people are driving from surrounding areas to shop but they are not in a hurry to move in above the mall. Will this new phase of new urbanism turn out just to be a phase? Guess we will have to let the market decide on that.

Comments:
Interesting article! I do have a question for you though. You wrote in your blog column “My initial guess would be no, people are not willing to give up their homes just to move into a condo above a mall. The article went on to mention that only 15% of the units had been sold since March. So, this also says to me that people are not willing to move into these "new urban" yet suburban developments.”.

Are you at all familiar with current housing market conditions at the moment? Especially in Boston and it’s outlying communities!

Personally, I feel the reason why 85% of the condos have not sold has less to do with humans not willing to try something new and more to do with market conditions.

For example, say I owned a home and I put it on the market because I want to move into one of these “new urban” condos. Now I find the perfect condo and I get a contract set, but it’s contingent on the selling of my house. Problem is, the market is flooded. I can’t sell my house because thousands of other people are doing the same thing. I can’t move until I get rid of one liability!

I believe there is interest in these condos, but people are waiting out the current market.

When you think about it, these condos aren’t really a new idea at all. For instance, when you walk down an older block of a city (perhaps an old centrum), you’ll notice shops on the first floor and apartments above. And what was the reason for placing living spaces above those old shops? Convenience!
The condos in Wayland just take it to the next level by placing them above a mall. Typical American style. Bigger, better, faster, and harder!
 
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