Report: Hints of Substantial Urban Residential Infill

March 18, 2009

The flood of residential development toward the suburbs and exurbs has recently slowed somewhat in certain metropolitan areas, according to an EPA report released Feb. 27, 2009.

Researchers with the agency's Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation studied trends in the 50 largest metropolitan areas during the period from 1990 to 2007, and found that infill development within urban areas has increased substantially in many of the metros, particularly in the past 5 years.

Nonetheless, total residential construction often remains dominated by expanding development around the metro peripheries. For instance, in half the metros studied, the share of new infill development remained either unchanged, or constituted less than one-quarter of all new residential development.

The 17 metros with the most substantial increases in share of infill residential development or redevelopment in the central city area include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, OR, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

When adding in what the authors call "core suburban areas," which are close to the central city and which were already fairly densely developed, other metros that saw a substantial increase in some type of redevelopment or infill development include Tampa-St. Petersburg, San Jose, and Virginia Beach-Norfolk.

There are a number of limitations to the agency's findings, as the report authors explain, but this document can provide one tool for you to further investigate overall national trends, or trends within areas of interest to your audience.