Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"It's Easier In The City"

Robert Toll, head of one of the country's biggest builders of suburban housing, says some interesting things in today's Wall Street Journal (subscription only) about his decision to start developing urban high-rises.

What do kids do in the burbs? You ride your bike until you can get your car. You've done the three movies at the plex. Now what? Having had five kids, I'm not sure that it's not more dangerous in the burbs than it is in the city because you are riding your bike in traffic. Or you are driving your car, which is even worse. You go down to the [convenience store] and smoke cigarettes, and the parents sit up with their arms wrapped around their knees, hoping that you come home.
Sounds a lot like my childhood (which was pretty nice, by the way). But Toll sees only 10-15% of traditional suburban home buyers moving to cities.

When the Journal asked him if it's easier to build in the suburbs or the city, he said,
It's easier in the city. The approval process is more professional in the city. The experts that you deal with are pretty much doing the assigned job, as opposed to the secret unassigned job to stop the growth, stop the sprawl [in the suburbs].
Toll's experience is in larger northeastern cities. I wonder whether the developer's experience is the same around here.

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