Posted as a response to: New Urbanism is great, if you’re rich by Adam Gordon at Planetizen:
Let’s put this into perspective. The median asking price for houses now on the market in Warwick is $495,000; for new houses in Plainsboro, $458,657. The asking prices, although certainly high, are not out of line.
These developers have already spent many long, grueling years to get their “ten times better than what’s being developed around them” projects out of the ground, and our thanks to them? “Good, but not perfect enough. You should have spent an extra five years of your life trying to convince the evil NIMBYs who run suburbia to accept even higher densities and poor folks.” Do we really expect New Urbanist developers to be not just idealists, but masochists as well — even while we give their competitors, the sprawl-builders, a pass?
Meanwhile, let’s also congratulate the many New Urbanists who have made a commitment to unsubsidized affordable housing: from Del Mar Station in Pasadena [an infill TOD, I might add], which voluntarily set aside affordable units even before the city adopted inclusionary zoning, to New Town at St. Charles, which brought sub-1,000 sq. ft. (Lilliputian by Middle American standards) cottages and rental apartments to suburban St. Louis, to the valiant efforts that resulted in the Katrina Cottage (a whole house for $30K!) being the first handsome affordable housing sold “ready to wear” by a national retailer since 1940, to the city planners nationwide who are attempting to craft ways to subtly add density to existing neighborhoods without raising NIMBY ire.
Affordable housing is a dilemma that we as a nation cannot hope to solve through good intentions alone — and unaffordable housing (aka “rising property values”) is something most Americans will readily vote for. The sad reality is that it’s neither cheap nor easy to build houses in most of the country, and that “market” prices will reflect that reality.
That said, CNU will shortly publish a report on a meeting held to discuss unsubsidized ways of producing affordable housing and has formed a committee to continue to advocate for innovative solutions. Stay tuned.
PS. It seems that there are misconceptions about what New Urbanism is. May I suggest a short refresher?