EPA Report: Redevelopment Continues in Urban Neighborhoods

March 23, 2010

Smart growth strategies emphasize reuse of land

WASHINGTON – An updated U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report shows a continuing shift in development toward urban neighborhoods in the United States, despite a slow a real estate market.

This trend, described in EPA’s 2010 report, “Residential Construction Trends in America’s Metropolitan Regions,” shows that redevelopment continues in many urban neighborhoods. Taking advantage of opportunities to reuse land and to redevelop underused sites is a key smart growth strategy. It helps communities protect natural lands from being developed, strengthens the local economy, and puts new homes, stores, and jobs within easy reach of surrounding neighborhoods.

The data show that, compared to the early 1990s, the share of construction in urban neighborhoods was up 28 percent in mid-sized metropolitan regions that have promoted redevelopment of underused sites and development around transit, such as Portland, Ore; Denver, Colo.; and Sacramento, Calif. For example, in 2008 Portland issued 38 percent of all the building permits within its region, compared to an average of 9 percent in the early 1990s; Denver accounted for 32 percent, up from 5 percent; and Sacramento accounted for 27 percent, up from 9 percent.

The latest report shows that an even stronger trend toward urban redevelopment in the largest metropolitan regions continued in 2008. New York City accounted for 63 percent of the building permits issued within its region. By comparison, the city averaged about 15 percent of regional building permits during the early 1990s. Similarly, Chicago now accounts for 45 percent of the building permits within its region, up from just 7 percent in the early 1990s.

The original report, issued in Feb. 2009, examined building trends in the 50 largest metropolitan areas from 1990 to 2007. The update incorporates data for 2008, which included several months of national economic downturn. More information on the report: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/construction_trends.htm More information on EPA Smart Growth program: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth

Dave Ryan