Monday, June 17, 2013

A pause in sprawl?

I was walking this morning on Pioneer Avenue SE in Cedar Rapids, where I've followed development for a number of years. I was struck this morning that building on this edge of Cedar Rapids seems to have stopped. There are many vacant lots laid out, but no building is in progress on any of them. The finished houses are in clumps located here and there amid the vacant lots.

(two vacant lots, with a very large house in the distance)

In the development pictured above, of the first five lots off 44th St two are vacant and two have finished houses for sale.

I chose to take this as a hopeful sign. It probably doesn't matter, really, if the lots are developed or not: the road's laid out, the sewer and electric lines laid. But maybe it means that the ever-outward push is slowing down, and is a cautionary note to future developers of sprawl that there's an oversupply of great big houses far from town with no places to walk or bike to?

I don't know if this pause, if real, is due to changing tastes, government policy, or the scuffling economy (though the rich aren't scuffling, and building here continued through the worst years of the downturn). It would be refreshing if society wasn't donating so many resources to sprawling.

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