How to start a city with less land and more people
Posted On July 21, 2021
Cities with lower density are often less able to attract businesses and people, and can be less attractive for foreign investment, according to a study from urban developers.
The study, released Tuesday, was designed to help urban planners plan for what might happen if they build fewer housing units and fewer businesses in their cities.
Urban developers say that while it is possible to develop new housing and business, the cost of those projects would be higher than those building new roads and other infrastructure.
For example, if an area were to build 2,000 more housing units, the city would have to pay $6,000 per unit to the developer, said Tom Loomis, director of the Urban Land Institute’s Center for Urban Growth.
But Loomes said that the costs of a new road or building new buildings are typically far less than the cost to build more homes or new businesses.
“We’re not trying to get to the point where we are building 2,300 new homes a year.
That is a very small number,” he said.
Other factors also matter, such as how quickly an area develops.
For example, a city could be built in just a few years if it has a population of 15,000 people and there are 20 percent fewer people than there were in 1980, Loomi said.
That would take 10 years.
Similarly, a metro area could grow in size over a relatively short period of time if it had a population in the range of 15 million to 40 million.
A metro area can also grow by adding a larger number of jobs if its density increases by 5 percent or more, Loms said.
For instance, the metro area with the highest density could grow by 4 percent a year if it added about 7,000 jobs.
Still, Loes said, if the density increases over a longer period of times, “the city will have to get more dense.”
Loomis said there are several factors that can lead to a city’s density, such the size of the population, the type of economic activity and the level of development that is occurring.
There are other factors, such whether the area has a high concentration of low-income households or if its population is concentrated in certain neighborhoods, that could also affect density.
The authors of the study also say that a growing city can have a large impact on a city.
“The densities we have seen in the United States are the result of a series of changes in our economic and social structures, from the Industrial Revolution to the Great Recession, that brought about a major change in the city,” Loomas said.