NewGeography Urbanist: At Home with Joel and Mandy Kotkin

Joel Kotkin, the provocative urbanist and Forbes contributor whose latest book is The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, is so right on the ball. Contrary to the elitists’ proclamation that all of us should ditch our autos and be crammed into an “urban core,” Joel thinks suburbia is not all that bad and is, actually, rather a pretty good place for families to live and thrive. Sure there’s a place for urban cores,¬† but they are increasingly becoming havens for the uber rich. San Francisco, for example, has the highest percentage of individuals living on unearned incomes! (I call these folks children of the Golden or Lucky Sperm Club. Of course,¬† many of them may have made a killing in the market and are living off the interest.) The outlying, auto-dependent areas where land and affordable housing is available is where most people settle. Also out there: jobs for the real people who keep the cogs turning. That’s what stimulates ‚Äúupward mobility‚Äù among the lower and middle classes, keeps our economy humming, and ultimately funnels more Lucky Sperm Club folks to San Francisco.¬† Joel’s latest Forbes.com column focuses on the 2010 Census and what it showed — and he was right on the money, honey. Americans are continuing to “disperse, becoming more ethnically diverse as I pointed out in NG and leaning toward to what might be called ‚Äúopportunity‚Äù regions of the nation.” That is, suburbs. In Texas!

I visited Joel and his precious wife, Mandy, at their home in December. They have a charming house in a beautiful, leafy part of the city known as Valley Village; their lot is generous and dotted with colorful citrus trees. A neighbor is Isaiah Washington, who played Dr. Preston¬† Burke on Grey’s Anatomy. Like all of us, the Kotkins keep track of home values in their ‘hood and track nearby celebrity homes:

“They are always doing something, working on that house,” Joel told me of the Washington home down the street.

Homes in Valley Village range from the $300’s to well over $2,650,000. But of course: this is Los Angeles. We spent a lot of time talking about what the Texas equivalent of the Kotkin home would look like — but I don’t think Mandy is ready to move out of Cali yet, though we both think the Lone Star state should give Joel an honorary home.

Maybe he could win this 2,900 square ft, four bedroom, three baths, gourmet kitchen and study area home by Darling Homes in Prosper, a Texas suburb growing like weeds! Hardwoods in the entry, kitchen, nook and family room, and many upgrades including landscaping, stereo system, and even Epoxy Paint Coating on the garage floor! Best of all, this home is practically FREE. That’s right. Darling homes has donated this $370,000 valued home in the country-like setting of Prosper in Whitley Place to benefit ManeGait, a non-profit therapeutic horseback riding center situated on a beautiful, rolling 14-acre site in Collin County, the fastest growing area of the DFW Metroplex. Founded by business and community leaders Bill and Priscilla Darling, ManeGait delivers the best in equine therapy in a caring, high-integrity environment.