Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Triumph des Suburbs

Johathan Potts has a posting on Joel Kotkin's article in the Washington Post about the Triumph of the Suburbs over the City. Worth a read and certainly filled with just enough vitriol to make Urban Economic Development Practitioners happy.

An extension of his post, is that cities are not as "doomed" as we think. The major advantage that cities have is a network of pre-existing infrastructure and services that can be provided/used with a minimal cost to the developer/business person.

Moreover, in the long run, the net present value to suburbs for this development is probably negative, with increased burdens on their existing infrastructure and services. Development of, say, a mall in a corn field, necessitates increased water/sewage containment and flow control, increased security, increased fire protection, remediation of other externalities, code enforcement, etc. Urban Areas, in the long run, already have infrastructure set up to deal with these things, while suburban areas do not. Problem for the Cities is that suburban areas have a lower up-front cost. [We can talk more later about governmental subsidies to lower the barriers to entry for Urban development.]

Even further and referenced in the Kotkin article, just because we now have an ability to telecommute, that does not necessarily mean that we can live out in the middle of nowhere... which is why Gateway Computers doesn't live in Sioux City Iowa anymore. There is a competitive advantage to the urban environment based on a need to be "where the action is".

But we can also discuss Michael Porter and Cluster Development strategies later.

Point is: Cities not doomed, unless of course Federal CDBG funding is cut. Oh...

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