Saturday, December 15th, 2007
Thanks to Urban Indy for linking to an article about suburban decay in Charlotte. The interesting things it that this isn’t happening in older areas, but practically new starter home subdivisions. Many of these homes were very cheaply built, were sold to people with marginal credit, and are now experiencing significant blight as the housing market turns south. Cheap buildings and common areas are damaged and unsightly. Homes get converted into rentals as investors swoop in to buy them out of foreclosure. And crime is skyrocketing.
Charlotte, like Indianapolis and many places where there is ample cheap land, threw up thousands of these types of home. Many of these subdivisions are struggling, though I haven’t heard of it being this bad before. Many of these places were built as borderline disposable communities, and they appear to have a very short shelf life.
One of the Charlotte city council members referred to these starter home communities as the “projects of the future”.
It will be interesting to see what happens. As I noted in my latest brief on Indiana annexation, municipalities are stepping up to take the lead on development in Indiana now, not counties. And municipalities take a jaundiced view of these types of developments. Many of them are implementing minimum design standards to mandate, for example, brick facades, and various anti-monotony ordinances designed to keep these places out. This pushes the developers further out on the fringe. Speculating, this could start leading to a development pattern where there are alternating rings of thriving and decaying communities, with some of the worst on the actual suburban fringe. There’s a thriving downtown at the core, ringed with traditional urban decay and some older, decaying suburbs. Then you’ve got a ring of newer, properous, higher end suburban communities, then you’ve got an exurban ring of cheaper suburbs where the development standards are lighter, featuring new suburban decay. We’ll have to see how it all plays out.