Monday, March 31, 2008

Waco New Home Journal "CBS News Segment on New Urbanism"

New Urbanism in Waco & Texas

The following article was recently published in the Waco Tribune Herald and is written by the nationally renowned economist, Ray Perryman, whose Perryman Group is based in Waco. He briefly cites how New Urbanism is sprouting up in Waco and all over the State of Texas.

Ray Perryman: 'New urbanism' changing cities' faces

Sunday, March 16, 2008
Ongoing projects relating to “new urbanism” in Austin have resulted in that city being selected as the host for the 16th annual Congress for New Urbanism scheduled next month.
The assembly will focus on methods for enabling communities to expand living and business opportunities in a responsible manner.
Waco will be paying attention as well.
Austin, with a variety of endeavors ranging from a new rail system to downtown high-rise residences, is typical of cities across the country that are facing population growth, employment expansion, and the resulting transportation and congestion issues.
New urbanism, which began a few years ago, is a movement that focuses on developing more compact communities, somewhat similar to small European neighborhoods. In these areas, pedestrian traffic is often preferred to automobile travel.
New urbanism also includes endeavors to provide diverse, vibrant and pedestrian-friendly living and work environments. In almost all cases, along with the construction of specialized residences, generous space is allocated for multi-use purposes, including retail operations.
New urbanist projects
Currently, more than 4,000 new urbanist projects are planned or under construction across the U.S.
The transformation of the Waco Square into a mixed-used, high-density development is one such effort.
Until fairly recently, new urbanism had not attracted a lot of attention in the Lone Star State, even though it has been popular in other states for quite some time.
However, last year, the demand for luxury living led to construction of high-rise apartments and condominiums in many of Texas’ major metros.
Nearly $400 million was authorized for these kinds of facilities in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. Commercial, public and residential facilities recently completed or planned in Houston will likely far eclipse that amount.
These and other cities are also considering further needs and opportunities for the future. Included are those designed to rebuild neighborhoods to stave off decay, diminish crime and provide economically attractive living quarters.
Recent housing problems in Florida, California and elsewhere have tended to slow urbanism activities in those areas. As a result, greater interest and investment are being directed to the Third Coast, the name by which the Texas Gulf Coast area is sometimes called, because beach-front property is still available at more reasonable costs compared to the other coasts.
This wave of new urbanism spans oceanfront sites from Galveston to South Padre Island. The total amount of expenditures projected is upwards of $3 billion over the short term. Many of these communities are expected to attract those from out-of-state as well as individuals and families currently residing in Texas.
Some of the Texas Gulf Coast projects feature complete new communities, or villages, while others are directed more toward improving historic areas and expanding multi-use opportunities.
The majority of housing being provided in the coastal environment is single-family dwellings, but high-rise and mid-rise condominiums are also included.
In these areas, caution is being taken to make certain that developments are controlled and that they include retail and restaurants, which will significantly enlarge the tax base for these areas.
As baby boomers begin to search for investments and select retirement homes, the Texas Gulf Coast is receiving closer examination. Foreign investors are also considering the coastal regions of the state.
Although the housing crisis and credit crunch have gripped much of the U.S., developments in various Texas metros, plus those in open spaces that define the state’s coast, are defying the trend and bringing a wave of optimism for new economic opportunities in the future.
Economist Ray Perryman is CEO of the Perryman Group. He also serves as distinguished professor of economic theory and method at the International Institute for Advanced Studies.