"New Ruralism" and other misc itemsAnother collection of small miscellaneous items:
- A New York Times piece on "new ruralism" land development in the Florida panhandle.
"The idea is a corporate reinvention of new urbanism, an antisprawl movement that advocates compact, old-fashioned towns where residents can commune in parks, shops and restaurants within walking distance of their homes. Instead of connecting with neighbors, new ruralism promotes connecting with the land - though these cabins in the woods come with wireless Internet access and porches with screens that unfurl by remote control.The target market is people 42 to 60 who, tired of coastal hurricane threats or the beach scene in general, want something more like Walden Pond or Walton's Mountain. Most are expected to use these ranches, camps and farms as second homes, though a surprising number of prospective buyers want full-time rusticity, St. Joe executives said."
It mentions the problem of making mosquito swamps attractive to landowners. If they're successful, they definitely need to bring the concept to southeast Texas...
- The Houston Business Journal has an article on Houston's strong housing market:
"All listing categories combined, Houston's overall housing market in July experienced increases across-the-board including total property sales, average sales prices, median sales price, available inventory, pending sales -- those listings expected to close within the next 30 days -- and overall total dollar volume on a year-over-year basis. ...
Houston's current median price of $145,500 is 33.4 percent less than the national median price, which reached $218,600 in June, according to statistics released by the National Association of Realtors. "
- An interesting piece on downtown Vancouver, which seems to have the opposite problem from Houston: way too many high-rise residential buildings and no office development, leading to downtown residents actually reverse-commuting on the rail lines to suburban job centers. One of the causes is a tax code that is tilted too heavily against commercial uses to keep taxes low on residents. Again, a problem very difficult to go back from, because residents are pretty happy with their low tax rates and aren't eager to increase them to lure more jobs. Lesson: tax policies can have unintended consequences.
- This guy needs to take a deep breath and relax. He rants like a madman about bland big box stores taking over the world, but he does inadvertantly highlight a nice feature of Houston: our lack of zoning and development regulation gives us a much more eclectic city. We're no tightly-controlled "Disney 'Burb" filled only with "safe" big-name stores and restaurants. It may not always be pretty, but it's nice to know that small business entrepreneurialism is alive and well in Houston, esp. among immigrants.