Thursday, April 9th, 2009
A lot of articles this week on the Brookings Institution study on “job sprawl”. That is, they surveyed cities and calculated the percentage of jobs within certain radii of the CBD. A number of the cities I cover made the list.
Notably, Detroit had the most job sprawl in this study, with 77.4% of its jobs greater than 10 miles from the CBD. Chicago was #2 with 68.7%. I think this goes to show one of the challenges of the study, namely that it punishes “unbalanced” metros whose CBD’s abut a border. Detroit’s CBD is on an international boundary and only the US jobs are counted. Similarly, Chicago’s CBD is on the lakefront and which limits development to the east. I saw a graph someone did of Detroit with jobs within a 10 mile radius of the population center of the region, and most of the major jobs centers fell within the ring.
Still, I think this is a useful study. It harkens back to my post “Could Marion County Implode” about Indianapolis. A ten mile radius from downtown Indianapolis is basically the core county. And most of the job growth is now outside of that. From 1998 to 2006 the percentage of jobs outside of the 10 mile ring increased from 27.8% to 33.6%, falling into the “rapidly decentralizing” category. This is Not Good. Forget the loaded term “sprawl” for a minute. Consider only that the jobs and associated economic and tax base growth are now outside the city/county and you can see where this is headed. Last year about half of all new office space constructed in the metro area was in the suburb of Carmel. The city is battling a slow but inexorable attrition in its share of regional economic and demographic activity.
In the greater Midwest I talk about, Louisville actually ranked as one of the top ten most concentrated metros in this study. The challenge for Louisville is that, IMO, this ranking is due primarily to its smaller size versus others, and once Jefferson County is “full” in 10 years or so, it will start to see the same effects.
In other news, Carol Coletta gives her report from the Global Cities conference in Dubai. My absolute favorite part was the Tweet summary she gave of one presentation, “Every city has a rich history or it wouldn’t be a city. Therefore, ‘rich history’ is no brand differentiator”. There is more great wisdom in this tweet stream than I’ve seen in a while. It goes straight to the BS strategies most cities try to use to improve themselves.
The New York Times asks guest bloggers what to do with abandoned malls.
Ed Glaeser argues that competition saved New York.
An interesting commentary on “failure and risk” from the Global and Mail.
The Detroit city council voted to approve demolishing the long vacant Michigan Central Depot and billing its billionaire owner for the expenses. I guess they got tired of it being on the standard “ruins of Detroit” tour.
Remember how I talked about how the Indianapolis Museum of Art had a great strategy? Here’s another data point as the New York Times features their launch of the Art Babble site. There are at least five mentions of “Indianapolis”. When was the last time that happened in the NYT outside of the sports page?
I notice that Ed Morrison has a wiki site up called “Map the Mess” about Cleveland.
Detroit: A city in crisis (Toronto Globe and Mail)
Selling off America’s manufacturing might, one factory at a time (Charlie LeDuff @ Detroit News)
Can Detroit be retooled (Time)
Officials hope Final Four will bring lasting benefits to Detroit (Washington Post)
Area roads need repairs after just 10 years (Detroit News)
Take high road and build two bridges (Free Press)
New web site hopes to attract young professionals (press release)
High end local restaurants make a new farmer’s market (Indy Star)
Project aims at congestion at I-70 and I-435 (KC Star)
Senator tries to cut off I-94 expansion (Daily Report)
Road cones about to sprout all over Minnesota (Star-Tribune)