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New rail lines, new urbanism, still growing

Urban-style development may be the brightest spot in a generally gloomy market. A recent survey of developers and investors by the Urban Land Institute for its annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate report found that urban redevelopment had the best prospects among all types of housing, while urban mixed-use properties and town centers scored high among niche property types. "These are the places that will be creating and holding value," Ms. Poticha said. She said proximity to public transit could raise property values significantly.

"It's moved from being an interesting idea to a core investment," said Jonathan F. P. Rose, the president of the Jonathan Rose Companies, a New York-based developer and investor.

The most successful projects do more than build housing near transit stations. They take pains to create livable neighborhoods, with parks, paths, retail stores and places for people to gather. "Place-making is key," Ms. Poticha said.


Lifestyle Communities, based in Columbus, is one of those developers. It is building a $25 million rental and condo project, the Annex at RiverSouth. Without the public investment in area roads and infrastructure, "it would have been difficult," said Michael DeAscentis Jr., the company's chief executive.

In Los Angeles, the Downtown Center Business Improvement District arranged weekly bus tours for people interested in living downtown, according to Rhonda Slavik, sales and marketing director for the South Group, a company that has built residential buildings in the emerging South Park neighborhood.

Of course, many municipalities are feeling pinched these days. Increased costs have forced Denver to look for additional funding for its ambitious plans, while in Charlotte, city officials may delay construction of one of two planned rail lines.

New Rail Lines Spur Urban Revival
Published: June 14, 2009
In a time of tight credit, housing developments built around new or existing transit lines are often able to secure financing.


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