In a recent post I argued that residential infill is vital to Provo’s success. Implicit in that argument was the fact that at present Provo basically has no residential infill. That’s a huge problem and it must change.
And as it turns out, the EPA report that I cited previously actually presents an economic argument for more infill:
Studies of consumer demand indicate that a growing number of Americans are seeking alternatives to the suburban neighborhoods most commonly associated with late-twentieth century housing construction. National studies conducted in 2006 and 2008 indicate that conventional (large-lot) suburban homes account for only 25 to 30 percent of total demand, with the remainder divided between multifamily buildings, townhomes, and small-lot single-family homes.16 A 2011 survey commissioned by the National Realtors Association found that nearly six in ten adults would prefer to live in a walkable neighborhood with a mix of houses and stores and other businesses nearby.17 The survey also found that six in ten would choose a smaller house and lot if it meant their commute time would be 20 minutes or less.
I’ve had many debates with people about whether the shift away from car-centric neighborhoods and toward stereotypically more “urban” development is real. And of course there will be people who want big homes on big lots for the foreseeable future. Most people, including myself, don’t want to eliminate the choice to live in that kind of environment.
But this report adds to the growing body of hard, statistical evidence that some people do want to be able to choose a different kind of place to live in. Right now that kind of place basically doesn’t exist in Provo, so people who want it go elsewhere.