A string of interesting newspaper articles today. First this from the Morning Call reporting that Whitehall was not able to build a new loft-style apartment complex because of restrictive parking zoning regulations. Once again, the thing that stops development, the thing that limits an increase in density is some primal obsession with accommodating the automobile. This has got to end. Municipalities need to change their mind set to understand that in the 21st century, population groups are going to demand workable cities which means density. Cars (and policies meant to accomodate cars) are going to have to play second fiddle or not at all.
Then, a second article from the Call reporting that the Valley real estate market is heating up again. Good! But instead of doing more farmland conversions, lets think about redeveloping our core cities and changing zoning ordinances to permit greater urban density. This is the message both from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission. The NIZ is doing amazing things for commerical real estate in downtown Allentown, but, the itself does not provide an incentive for residential development. For the downtown to be a true success, residential developers are going to have to start moving middle class folks downtown to both live and work.
Think that is a pipe dream, not so fast. The New York Times just had a front page article today indicating that for most people, the economics are now such that it is cheaper to rent than to buy. The Valley's core cities should double down on this good news and encourage the development of mid-rise and high-rise apartments.