URBAN AND SUBURBAN INFILL
Sudden leap in gas prices gives impetus to new urbanism concepts; Much woe to new developments on the fringe
Back in late 2007 when I was organizing this book, I decided to add a chapter on urban infill. This is a concept that came to life in the 1980s and then gathered momentum behind a couple of intellectual movements in the 1990s called new urbanism and smart growth.
My sense at the time was that while infill development in urban locations had definitely picked up steam during the past decade, in some ways the low- or no-down mortgage rate phenomenon had actually worked against it, promoting instead cheap single-family development further out on the exurban fringe.
By 2008, as I was in the throes of writing the book, events actually overtook me in regard to the whole patchwork of development called urban infill. The difference between late 2007 and mid-year 2008 was the rapid rise in the price of gasoline. From June 2007 to June 2008, gasoline prices climbed 26 percent and the average price of gasoline hit $4 a gallon for the first time in the country’s history.1
Gasoline prices had been climbing steadily for decades. In 2004 prices at the pump passed the $2 a gallon level. The cost then accelerated until 2008 when the speed of price increases moved forward faster than we could stuff our wallets with greenbacks. It seemed unheard of that ...