I guess what I like about demographer, futurist and urban observer Joel Kotkin is that he is upbeat about both America and Texas, and he shares my gut common sense instinct that most people, families, want to live in homes, not a bunch of scrunched-together apartments. (So why are we building so many in Dallas???) He is practical in his thinking that Americans will always have a love affair with their autos, and that we will have most of our growth in suburban towns, where families will find safe, affordable housing and decent public education for their kids. Yesterday, I learned of an amazing new master-planned development you will be hearing a lot of on this blog, Phillips Creek Ranch by Republic Property Group, in Frisco: unbelievable $350K homes with a million dollar plus lifestyle of clubs, pools, hike and bike, and fabulous schools. Then there’s Emerald Sound. I think, like Joel does, that growth will be in the suburban areas — you cannot deny it. Take a stroll in your car down Geo W Bush and tell me he’s wrong. We will drive and park — to mini-cities — from suburban town to suburban town. That’s why I am so excited by what Scott Beck plans do do with Valley View Mall.
Kotkin is in Fort Worth today, the keynote speaker at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce’s sold-out 130th annual meeting at the Worthington Renaissance Hotel. I so owe him about ten stories.
“My sense is that the country’s economic center is moving back into the central point of the country. And within the central part of the country, the center of gravity has moved from Chicago to Fort Worth and Houston,” he has said.
Whoa? What about Dallas? I have written for Kotkin, and spent time with him and his lovely wife in LA. I know he is not super keen on Dallas, thinks we are a bit stuffy. But he still thinks we are doing something so right here:
“Really, I think if you want to see what American cities are going to evolve into, probably the place to go is Texas,” said Kotkin, whose annual analysis of the best cities for jobs is routinely topped by the Lone Star State’s five metropolitan areas.
A NewGeography.com analysis of job growth from 2002 to 2012 of the metropolitan areas with populations of at least 2.5 million shows Houston leads the way at 16.2 percent, followed by Washington (10.9 percent), Phoenix (10.2 percent) and Dallas-Fort Worth (9.1 percent). We know all about our state and energy. Washington will always do well because of what goes on there — politics. Phoenix surprises me because I cannot for the life of me see much job creation there — besides maintaining golf courses.
Joel Kotkin’s view of the nuevo America:
“Our experiment with creating what Walt Whitman described as ‘the race of races’ will continue to evolve. By midcentury the United States will be a ‘white country’ no longer but rather a staggering amalgam of racial, ethnic, and religious groups, all participants in the construction of a new civilization whose roots lie not in any one country or continent but across the entirety of human cultures and racial types. No other advanced, populous country will enjoy such ethnic diversity,” Kotkin writes in his book, The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.
All those people will require housing, of course. What they will leave behind (or how they will shed those homes in other states), is an unanswered question that intrigues me. While Kotkin does think we will rebuilt and in-fill in large cities, that will be done by those with higher net worth. The middle class surge will be in the Heartland, where there’s ample room for the creation of new suburban towns and not so many pesky rules and regs. Kotkin is the first to tell you point by point how California, his home state, has shot itself economically with over-regulation.
Here’s what he writes about Tejas:
“The land is cheap and the NIMBY (not in my back yard) culture is not there. And you don’t have the ‘smart growth’ people who think everyone should live in an apartment.”