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Cornell Real Estate Review

Abstract

What happens when the ideology commonly referred to as “New Urbanism” meets the dreaded consumer preferences of automobile-addicted sunbelt cities such as Dallas, Texas? New Urbanist ideology permeates current planning policies and influences many discussions in the development community around sustainability and sprawl. Yet policies and hopes often take on a different identity entirely once molded by the preferences of the American consumer.

New Urbanism offers potential solutions to many of the problems associated with suburban sprawl in the United States, but it is no panacea. Ideologues and opponents may debate its merits and shortcomings, but it is the consumers’ votes in dollars and cents that ultimately render the verdict in practice. The market dynamics of sunbelt cities present challenges and preferences different in many ways from higher density cities on either the west or east coasts. Recent developments show that New Urbanism, and mixed-use development in particular, offers competitive differentiation and may be extremely successful in the sunbelt. Yet the ideology does not meet all needs of this market, and the development community must carefully analyze what elements of New Urbanism will work in practice and which will not.

This paper will provide the background of New Urbanism and explore the view points of its proponents and opponents. Finally, two developments in Dallas, Texas will be used as case studies to illustrate how the debate has manifested itself in the sunbelt and what each teaches about the viability of New Urbanism in this type of market.

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