Developer Spin vs. The Way It Is

Don't blindly believe what developers tell you.

The other day I received my copy of “The Way It Is” published by the Powers That Be (hereinafter referred to as “THEY”).  It is good to know that someone out there is always willing to let us know the way it is.   In this particular issue, THEY said that the new generation of workers, or Gen X’ers and Gen Y’ers or just generally those new to the workforce with buying power, want to live, work, play and shop all in the same spot while riding a bicycle or driving a hybrid vehicle.  And we all know that THEY must be right in this generational summation since we know that all Baby Boomers went to Vietnam, danced at Woodstock and still trip on acid.   Our 3 -5 bedroom suburban houses and condo’s are all patchouli scented with Levon Helm constantly singing in the background….

What?  WHAT?  Ho there!  I’m a boomer and I didn’t go to Nam, Woodstock; never took acid, don’t like patchouli and the only Levon Helm song I like is “Up On Cripple Creek” – must have been a bad dream!!!

And yet, the things I said above about the wants and needs of this new generation of buyers; you know, about how they ALL want to live, work, play and shop in one spot with their hybrids parked nearby – this kind of stuff is frequently touted by developers, city planners and architects. I’m not saying some people don’t want that.  But to define an entire generation as wanting that? 

The thing is, land use patterns really do change and in definable patterns and for specific reasons, be they noble or ignoble.  But I suspect these changes have to do with a world of reasons that are NOT defined by youthful generations recently vested with buying power, but more to do with things like politics, transportation projects, estate taxes, unemployment, abundance or scarcity of natural resources, population statistics, etc.  I suspect that those with new buying power simply buy what is available for them to buy.  And I suspect that those in the business of developing and selling these available things are simply good marketers and have to put a spin on what they are selling in order to give it sex appeal, including inventing a new super sexy generation that is so cool, environmentally aware and urban and practical that it can eat, sleep, party and collectively use less gasoline all in one spot; aka cramming retail, residential, office space and a few walking paths onto as small a footprint as possible.  But hey, truth doesn't sell.  

So, this particular blog is not a statement about property rights.  It is not a condemnation of city planners and developers.  And it is not meant as an insult to the great Levon Helm.  The point is, spin is not necessarily the way it is. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dale Adams February 17, 2013 at 01:31 PM
You do have a point to a point. Yes, the pitch is the lastest spin for developers and planners to promote density. BUT, after living in the suburbs for 25 years and then going down to Piedmont Park on a Saturday afternoon is see the venders, lakes, human interaction and the mid rise condos overlooking that park - I wanna move. None of my kids want to live in the burbs. Why? They say there is nothing to do. No kids want to live here if Brookhaven, Buckhead or Midtown is an option. The coolness factor that Canton Street has captured coupled with moderate density housing options in very defined areas is little bit of spice that can help keep NF fresh. We just can't screw it up and overdo the density. The fear of change is very human. I just would just hate for NF to become one big Del Webb community.
Julie Hollingsworth Hogg February 17, 2013 at 05:53 PM
True. Midtown can be fun - I know - I go to work there 5 days a week. Lived close in (Decatur then later Brookhaven) already in my life - don't want to go back. But I do agree that variety is the spice of life.
W. Beck February 18, 2013 at 01:09 PM
I'm in that generation w/ the buying power. I enjoy my older single family home in the `burbs. However, I would love to have an atmosphere within the 1 mile walk or bike ride to downtown historic Alpharetta where I could eat, drink, and enjoy the town. Instead of moving my car from parking lot to parking lot as the night goes on down Winward Pkwy.. Plenty of my friends would even love to have their bedroom right there too. The ongoing project that home ownership is to them, (mowing the lawn, fixing the roof, cleaning up down trees, unclogging toilette) is not desirable to them. However, they are tired of the same old apartment living or the too big downtown. A smaller, but vibrant city with plenty to do is very appealing. While living in a planned neighborhood with an entrance sign, streets named after Camelot characters, basketball goals, and piles of bicycles at the end of cul-de-sac's might be appealing for you, it isn't for everyone. There is already plenty of this in Alpharetta. Why not let "they" add the other category to a pretty much dead and deserted downtown.
Lee at rootsinalpharetta.com February 18, 2013 at 02:19 PM
Today's millennial generation will be tomorrow's suburban dwellers. There's no doubt that today they desire urban living. But eventually they will covet the lifestyle Alpharetta offers. They'll contemplate raising children in an urban environment and the sending them to the Atlanta school system. They'll realize that it isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Next thing you know they'll have a house with a yard in a great school system. This Gen-X guy wouldn't have been caught dead in boring Alpharetta 15 years ago either. It's funny how your priorities change. So we can use this generation to change the character of a thriving suburb and fatten up some developers. But in the end they are not much different than the generation before them.
Bulldog February 18, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Hey Julie, I've always been partial to "The Weight" myself... As for density, I'm all for it downtown, etc. Do I want the whole city to look like the proposed city center and Avalon - no. But a few vibrant, walkable areas open after 5:00 pm with a "captive" audience sounds really appealing to this 48 year old single guy.
Julie Hollingsworth Hogg February 18, 2013 at 11:14 PM
I can appreciate your viewpoint. Actually, I don't desire a cul de sac anymore but would prefer some acreage again.
Julie Hollingsworth Hogg February 18, 2013 at 11:25 PM
Yes, Lee, I really agree with you above. In my own situation - I enjoy the younger people I work with in midtown immensely! But I seldom socialize with them because they party with each other and people their age - not older folks like me. Eventually you get tired of peering in on the party as the old person. This is my son's generation that is livening up midtown! I love driving home to Alpharetta at the end of the day.
Julie Hollingsworth Hogg February 19, 2013 at 12:01 AM
Yea, I forgot about The Weight when I was writing this....it's definitely one of my favorites too.
Paula M February 20, 2013 at 02:43 PM
Well said!
Mark Toro March 03, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Great commentary, Lee. Thank you for sharing.
Mark Toro March 03, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Thanks for sharing your perspective, Julie. I guess time will tell.


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