Blog Archives

Viewpoint: The urban future isn’t all about population booms

[Source: Froma Harrop, Providence Journal] — Sunbelt-and-sprawl advocate Joel Kotkin wrote two years ago that the future of American urbanism wasn’t in the “elite cities,” such as New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, but in “younger, more affordable and less self-regarding places.”  He named (his order) Houston, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas and Riverside, Calif.

Boom-city boosters like Kotkin play a numbers game, where the place with the biggest population explosion wins.  This is also a kind of Blue America-versus-Red America urbanology, which includes an element of liberal-bashing: Any place that refuses to be steamrolled by developers is called “elite.”

In the aftermath of the real-estate bust, areas overly dependent on building houses, selling houses and financing houses are in the worst shape.  Economies need non-bubble jobs.  Unemployment rates in the recent hyper-growth centers, Riverside and Las Vegas, are now well above those in the aforementioned “elite cities.”  And Boston’s 9 percent unemployment is only a point above that of the more economically diverse Sunbelt powerhouses: Houston, Dallas, and Phoenix.

There’s little point in pitting cities, regions and states against one another.  This is a big country.  One can like San Francisco for some things and Las Vegas for others.  By the way, what gave anyone the idea that Houston, Dallas and Phoenix are not “self-regarding”?  They are, as well they should be.  [Note: Read the full article at The urban future isn’t all about population booms.]

Procter & Gamble deems Phoenix all-time sweatiest

Shameless plug for sponsoring company.

Shameless plug for bestower of Phoenix honorific.

[Source: Lisa Biank Fasig, Phoenix Business Journal] — Phoenix has gone to the pits again, ranking as the sweatiest city in six of the past eight years.  The dubious honor is handed out by the Procter & Gamble Co. brand Old Spice, which since 2002 has measured the country’s sweatiest cities.

Phoenix has led the Annual Top-100 Sweatiest Cities list for the fourth consecutive year.  Over the time of the competition, the city has yielded an average summertime temperature of 94 degrees. The result?  The average Phoenix resident producing 27.7 ounces of sweat per hour — the equivalent of more than five gallons of milk per day.  Following Phoenix on the list are San Antonio, Texas; Las Vegas; Dallas and Houston. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix #22 among major U.S. cities for Energy Star buildings

[Source: Phoenix Business Journal] — Phoenix ranked 22nd among U.S. cities for the number of buildings that received the Energy Star designation in 2008. The metro area had 39 buildings covering 7.3 million square feet that meet the energy efficiency standard last year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Those efficiencies translate to $7 million in annual savings and the equivalent of electricity used by 6,900 households annually.

Los Angeles was No. 1 with 262 structures covering 73.9 million square feet.  That translates to $87.2 million in energy cost savings and 35,800 households, the EPA said.  Rounding out the top five were San Francisco, Houston, Washington, and Dallas.  “Energy Star buildings typically use 35 percent less energy and emit 35 percent less greenhouse gases than average buildings,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement.  “EPA commends all of these cities and all of the others, as well as countless individuals, who are now using more energy efficient appliances and dwellings.  They are saving energy, saving money and protecting our environment.”

Overall, Arizona has 93 buildings with Energy Star designations.  Those include 13 Marriott locations, five Bashas’ stores and Renaissance Square, Collier Center, One North Central tower, Wells Fargo Plaza, and Phoenix Federal Courthouse in downtown Phoenix.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Nielsen study finds Atlanta, Dallas, and Phoenix are top markets by recent population growth

[Source: Market Wire via COMTEX] — A new Nielsen Company analysis aimed at uncovering expansion opportunities for the retail industry in a down economy has found that sustained growth is occurring in large metros such as Atlanta, GA; Dallas, TX; and Phoenix, AZ, which ranked as the top three fastest growing markets over the last eight years.  The study, which was conducted by Nielsen Claritas, Nielsen’s leading marketing information source, and based on data compiled as of early 2008, showed that Atlanta and Dallas CBSAs (Core Based Statistical Areas) added more than one million in population since 2000, while the Phoenix CBSA was close at 971,849.

Rounding out the top five were the Houston and the Los Angeles CBSAs, which also grew by nearly a million people at 949,905 and 939,317, respectively.  A CBSA includes both metropolitan areas of at least 50,000 population and micropolitan areas with a population between 10,000-49,999.  “And while some of these markets like Phoenix and Los Angeles have been hard hit by the recent wave of foreclosures, there has been no mass exodus from these markets or anywhere else.

People who have foreclosed most likely have not left the market but rather have just become renters. Faltering markets, such as these, will likely rebound and continue to grow — and their underlying demographics are solid,” said Mike Mancini, Nielsen Claritas Vice President of Data Product Management and co-author of a whitepaper that documented the study’s findings, titled “Finding Growth in Challenging Times: Seven Indicators to Evaluate Population Growth.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix tops list for U.S. home price declines

[Source: Adam Kress, Phoenix Business Journal] — A new read on the housing market shows Phoenix home values have dropped nearly 31% in the past 12 months — the steepest decline of any major city in the nation.  Home prices across the country fell in August for the 25th consecutive month and prices in 10 major markets plunged a record 17.7% from August 2007, according to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price 10-city index.  From July to August, prices dropped 1.1%.  The 20-city index marked a record year-over-year decline of 16.6% with a 1% fall from July to August. 

The hardest hit of all 20 cities on a year-over-year basis was Phoenix, where prices plummeted 30.7% during the past 12 months.  Las Vegas prices plunged 30.6% and Miami sank 28.1%.  The cities that held up the best were Dallas, which saw a decline of just 2.7%; Charlotte, N.C., down 2.8%; and Boston, off 4.7%.  No city showed a price gain during over the last 12 months.  From July to August, San Francisco saw the biggest price decline, down 3.5%.  Phoenix prices fell 2.9% and Las Vegas homes lost 2.4% in value.  Two cities showed gains in August.  Cleveland prices rose 1.1% and Boston prices inched up 0.1%.

The S&P Case-Shiller indexes compare the sale prices of the same homes year-to-year and are considered one of the most accurate home price gauges.

Phoenix #10 U.S. city for singles, says Forbes.com

[Source: Business Wire] — Atlanta bumped San Francisco out of first place as the No. 1 city on Forbes.com’s 8th annual ranking of America’s “Best Cities For Singles.” According to Forbes.com Executive Editor Michael Noer, “Atlanta got the top spot because of its hopping nightlife, relatively high number of singles, and sizzling job growth.”

The list ranks 40 of the largest urbanized areas in the U.S. in seven categories, including a city’s “cool factor,” cost of living alone, culture, job growth, online dating, nightlife, and the number of singles.

  1. Atlanta
  2. San Francisco
  3. Dallas
  4. Minneapolis
  5. Washington D.C.
  6. Seattle
  7. Boston
  8. New York City
  9. Orlando
  10. Phoenix

Skyline struggles to give Phoenix sense of identity

[Source: Richard Nilsen, Arizona Republic] — A city’s skyline is its ID photo.  Think the Transamerica Pyramid and the Golden Gate Bridge for San Francisco, the George Washington Bridge, and the Empire State Building for Manhattan.  And Dallas, well, Dallas has its freeway flyovers.  But what is Phoenix’s mug shot?  

“The first view of most visitors to Phoenix is the downtown towers silhouetted against Camelback, Mummy, or South mountains as their airplanes bank for a landing,” says Max Underwood, an Arizona State University architecture professor. The mountains are certainly part of it, but what about those buildings?  Do they give Phoenix a sense of self?

Phoenix is now the fifth-largest city in the nation, and it keeps getting bigger.  But smaller cities have a more distinct architectural profile: San Francisco, Portland, Ore., Denver.  “Our high-rises are not interesting enough, varied enough, tall enough or numerous enough to create a skyline worth talking about,” says Grady Gammage Jr., a Valley lawyer and urban-planning critic.

It isn’t just a question of individual buildings of architectural distinction — Phoenix has several of those. It’s about an overall sense of architecture as a source of civic pride and urban identity.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Census shows older U.S. cities hold on to more people, Phoenix slows

[Source: William H. Frey, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution] — Newly released U.S. Census Bureau population data for U.S. cities show a new twist on a well-known theme that could be good news for older cities hoping to reverse population declines of the past.  The familiar part of the report indicates that most of the nation’s fastest growing cities are located in the South and interior West.  Places like McKinney, TX; North Las Vegas, NV; and Cary, NC, are registering growth rates that cities in baseball’s “American League Central” division (e.g., Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City) can only dream about.  But the new estimates also show a clear retrenchment of the old “Snowbelt to Sunbelt” population surge, a turnaround that has brought modest gains to many older and coastal cities that lost population earlier in the decade.

Population trends in the nation’s nine largest cities (those with over one million residents) offer a glimpse at the story (Table 1).  Three of these — Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego — flipped from population declines to gains in the past year, while their more high-flying sunbelt counterparts — Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas — showed reduced levels of growth.  The growth slowdowns in Houston and Phoenix were substantial, while at the same time, Chicago’s modest gain was the first registered since 2001.  Another notable flip occurred in Boston, which last year became the fastest growing city in the Northeast, after losing population the year before.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]