Monday, August 5, 2019

This year, I'm turning my focus on a phenomenon that has sometimes been called "Edge Cities", though I'm using the term somewhat differently than what was popularized by Joel Garreau in 1991. Why this focus?

All cities that are growing prosperously, no matter where they are in the world, are experiencing a similar set of problems. The value of land in their core is increasing so much that service personnel are unable to afford housing near the core, and those who were housed there until recently are being forced out ("gentrification" is the term usually applied); as buildings grow taller in the core, the demand for access increases, but the cost of providing that access becomes more and more unaffordable to the governments responsible for providing it.

Affordable housing, commercial, and office space is needed "near" the core city. The problem is to achieve functional proximity at a reasonable cost. My focus has turned to a 21st Century version of the "edge city" concept as a possible solution.

If achieving functional proximity seems to be the key, what does it look like? How has it been achieved - if at all - in cities around the world? What are the major hurdles? What variations on the theme have proved more successful, and why? And how does one measure all the factors?

My travels in 2019 will take me to Vancouver Canada, Seattle and Sacramento USA, and in Japan to several cities including Tokyo, Osaka, Sendai, and Sapporo. All these are cities that appear to be growing prosperously while functioning reasonably well. The visit to Vancouver includes my fourth EcoCities World Summit, where I hope to share my questions and potential answers with others from even more cities around the world.

My goal is to lay the groundwork during August and September, including more detailed articulation of the issues and preliminary measurement of the parameters in each of the cities I mentioned - plus others I'm familiar with like Toronto, Denver, and of course Detroit. I hope you'll follow along with me on this quest for the 21st Century Edge City.

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