Trends in Residential Real Estate: The New Urbanism

by 01 Mar 2013

I recently visited a friend who purchased a condo in a “new urbanism” development. As I drove into the parking structure I realized I was in the center of a newer shopping mall in Salt Lake City. I entered my friend’s condo unit and my eyes were greeted by windows that extended up towards the tall ceiling. Outside was a scene of a tiny village, a mall where nature is built carefully inside, removing the City looming just outside the gates.  Just steps from her condo’s front door is the mall, a small Starbucks coffee shop, an Apple Store, and every retail store you can imagine.


But what was missing in this village-like atmosphere? There was no supermarket, no dry cleaners, no living essentials - only retail shops. Even if you were to jump on the Salt Lake City ‘Tracks’ train, a good grocery store is a challenge to access from this development. So is this development in Salt Lake City an example of the new urbanism or just another mall with condos for sale?


Without the retail outlets that a person needs to live, this development in Salt Lake is not a good example of the new urbanism. What it’s missing is a Trader Joe’s, a dry cleaners, and a hair cutters place, for example. And certainly all of these outlets should be within walking distance.


But this is only my way of viewing the new urbanism. I see it as a new way for people to live, without the gasoline powered car commutes from the suburbs of big cities. People will start to buy smaller properties within walking distance of retail, or via some other mass transit, eco-friendly vehicle. These new developments must include the retail outlets that provide necessities for living. Without a supermarket within walking distance, it’s hard to say a development can qualify as being a pure example of the new urbanism.


How do you view the new urbanism and its unique characteristics? What does it take for a development to qualify as new urbanism? Here’s wiki’s definition of the new urbanism:  - What’s yours and which developments can you think of that may qualify? Please comment.


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