9-line access access management access point accessibility ADA air quality alignment amenity antiplanner atlanta BART BID bike Blogs boston branded bus branded buses brookings brt bus Bus Rapid Transit BYU capacity car pool cars central link Centrality certification commuter rail condo conformity congestion congestion pricing connections consistency coverage crossings CRT cycling DART dedicated dedicated right of way density denver depreciation developers development dynamic pricing economics efficiency Envision Utah equity eugene exclusive extension FAQ favela Federal Funding Flex Bus florida free fare zone freeways Frequent Transit Network frontrunner frontunner Gallivan garden cities gas prices geotagging goat Google grade-separation Granary District growth headway heavy rail hedonic High Speed Rail history housing housing affordability housing bubble housing prices HOV income infill innovative intersections intensity ITS junk science LA land use LEED legacy city light rail linear park location LRT lyft M/ART malls mapping maps market urbanism metrics metro MetroRail missoula mixed mixed traffic mixed-traffic mobile mode choice Mode Share multi-family MXD neighborhood networks news NIMBY office online op-ed open letter Operations parking parking meters peak travel pedestrian environment phasing Photomorphing planning Portland property property values Provo proximity quality_transit rail railvolution rant rapid rapid transit RDA real estate redevelopment reliability research retail Ridership ridesharing right of way roadway network ROW salt lake city san diego schedule schedule span seattle separated shuttle silver line single family SLC SLC transit master plan slums smartphone snow sprawl standing stop spacing streetcar streetscape streetscaping subdivision subsidy Sugarhouse Sugarhouse Streetcar Tacoma taxi technology tenure termini time-separation TOD townhouse traffic signal tram transit transit networks transit oriented development Transit Planning transponder transportation travel time TRAX trip planning trolley tunnel uber university of utah urban design urban economics urban land UTA UTA 2 Go Trip Planner utah Utah County Utah Transit Authority vmt walking distance web welfare transit Westside Connector WFRC wheelchairs zoning

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gotta build something

I was reading about housing starts today, and this phrase struck me:
Construction started on buildings with five or more units at an annual rate of 171,000 units, the highest level in two years. The rate of starts for single-family homes was the lowest in almost two years.
I find it tremendously cheering.  Five years ago, I remain the general despair at the thought of ever getting builders to shift toward developing multi-family properties. "No one will build multi-family, because developers have no experience at it". But the current oversupply of single family homes has changed that--if you've got a construction company, you've got to build something or go broke. Even if you fire everyone, you've still got cost of capital. So builders are switching.

The techniques for building town homes and condos really aren't that different from those used to build mansions and large house. Extra bedrooms, guest bathrooms, second kitchens, second furnaces and water heaters. Simply a matter of adding a few extra walls.

In the long-term, demand for single family homes will resume. But the skills for building decent multi-family units will have been developed, and that will do a lot to overcome the friction associated with developing TOD.