Over the weekend, I read this great article ("The Next Slum?") in the Atlantic Monthly. The money quote:
"In most metropolitan areas, only 5 to 10 percent of the housing stock is located in walkable urban places (including places like downtown White Plains and Belmar). Yet recent consumer research by Jonathan Levine of the University of Michigan and Lawrence Frank of the University of British Columbia suggests that roughly one in three homeowners would prefer to live in these types of places. In one study, for instance, Levine and his colleagues asked more than 1,600 mostly suburban residents of the Atlanta and Boston metro areas to hypothetically trade off typical suburban amenities (such as large living spaces) against typical urban ones (like living within walking distance of retail districts). All in all, they found that only about a third of the people surveyed solidly preferred traditional suburban lifestyles, featuring large houses and lots of driving. Another third, roughly, had mixed feelings. The final third wanted to live in mixed-use, walkable urban areas—but most had no way to do so at an affordable price. Over time, as urban and faux-urban building continues, that will change."
I found that "1/3" number interesting. In our informal survey a few years ago, about 1/3 of respondents said they wanted to live downtown. Additionally, 796 people have (so far) answered the following question on the ongoing Comp Plan survey: "Would you like to live in a neighborhood within walking distance from downtown Peoria and the waterfront?" 286 of them said yes -- 35.9%. A small sample to be sure, but in line with all the other evidence we've gathered.
Christopher Setti 6 Sigma Black Belt
City of Peoria