Have you ever wondered why Texas cities are more liberal than outlying areas?  It’s not a Texas thing.

Large urban environments are typically more ideologically liberal around the globe. Like a blast zone, liberal ideals diminish the further away you get from an urban environment.  But why?  The clichés of vibrancy, higher average education, and these days, younger populations.  But research is beginning shed a slightly different light on the phenomenon.

In a nutshell, liberalism today can be equated with empathy. The regular immersion and interaction between the daily lives of diverse peoples makes it easier to empathize with the effects of policies and ideas on people you know. Conversely, the further people are from those affected by negative actions, the easier it is to accept them. Call it skin in the game.

From the media we select, to friends (sometimes family), to the very real estate we inhabit, humanity has built its own echo chambers (often referred to as “bubbles”) in recent decades.

As a nation we cared more about war when there was a draft that (most) everyone was subjected to. When it was your children or your neighbor who was conscripted, you paid more attention. Would the Vietnam protests have changed the course of that war without mandatory service? Would the U.S. still be in Iraq and Afghanistan were there a draft? Would we have gone at all?

I hear you asking what this has to do with real estate. Simple. The vibrancy brought about by urban environments is not only great at attracting good restaurants and sidewalk-littering scooters, but it’s also good at breeding empathy, which today unfortunately equates to liberalism. Unlike the faceless online world, real life is generally kinder when real people are face-to-face.

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Doug Chesnut-cropped

 

DFW Reimagined and CNU North Texas hosted their Fall Breakfast Seminar Wednesday, with an interview of Doug Chestnut, CEO and Founder of StreetLights Residential.

With their eight recent and current projects in Dallas, and many more nationwide, StreetLights Residential is on a roll. In Dallas, you’re probably familiar with their work. Recent and current projects include:

The Jordan on McKinney Ave at Pearl St, The McKenzie just off Knox St, The Case Building in Deep Ellum, The Taylor on Carlisle St in Uptown, Trinity Green on Singleton in West Dallas, The Union at Field and Cedar Springs, Residences next to Deep Ellum’s Knights of Pythias building, and another yet-unannounced residential project in Deep Ellum featuring artist living and artisan shops.

The Jordan

The Jordan

Doug confirmed that this demand wave they’re riding, for more urban residences, is a demographic trend that will not be changing anytime soon. Many Baby Boomers who lost a lot of equity in the financial downturn of 2008 decided to liquefy their home equity and change their living situation. That, plus the 2 million Millennials turning 22 years old every year for the next eight years, is a lot of demand. Many of these young professionals don’t have the income to buy a home, nor desire a lifestyle that requires driving. In essence, they’re looking for quality of life through an urban lifestyle with amenities close at hand.

StreetLights Residential has built its business on this principle — that a building and the neighborhood’s design creates lasting value and quality of life. Said Chestnut: “Endearing neighborhoods have activated streets, parks, and entertainment nearby. You go to bed exhausted and can’t wait to get up early and do it all over again. Entertainment doesn’t have to be Six Flags or million-dollar museums, it can be as simple as having a glass of wine on a patio.” Great cities flow.

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Dusk Skyline

Past, meet future.

It’s just incredible how often we think and talk about the destiny of our city and how it is tied to the Trinity River. The discussion we’re having about this natural resource that bisects Dallas, some of them behind closed doors, isn’t a new one. In fact, we’ve been talking about the Trinity River’s influence since at least 1967, when Rob Perryman, an Austin writer and photographer, took 8,000 photos of our downtown and turned them into a narrated 40-minute movie called “The Walls Are Rising.” It was a commision of the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, whose goal was to spur development through awareness.

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