McMansions: future slums?
As urban cores continue to regain their popularity thanks to convenience and walkability, "many low-density suburbs and McMansion subdivisions, including some that are lovely and affluent today, may become what inner cities became in the 1960s and ’70s—slums characterized by poverty, crime, and decay," Leinberger predicts. He offers as examples communities in North Carolina, California and Florida, where rising crime and vacancies are going hand in hand.
He acknowledges that subprime lending played a role but says other factors are at work:
Arthur C. Nelson, director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, has looked carefully at trends in American demographics, construction, house prices, and consumer preferences. In 2006, using recent consumer research, housing supply data, and population growth rates, he modeled future demand for various types of housing. The results were bracing: Nelson forecasts a likely surplus of 22 million large-lot homes (houses built on a sixth of an acre or more) by 2025—that’s roughly 40 percent of the large-lot homes in existence today.
I'd be interested to hear what you all think -- and if you believe his piece holds a warning for the Baltimore metro area. Pretty much all of the developed part of western Howard County, for instance, is large-lot housing, and there are McMansions in suburban counties across Maryland. The zoning in such communities has prevented anything else.
On the other hand, the Baltimore suburbs don't have a lot of raw land left. That's caused some hand-wringing that the future will bring too few houses of all types rather than too many, at least without significant redevelopment of vacant houses and land in Baltimore City.
So chime in: What do you think of Leinberger's argument?