A couple of days ago the New York Times ran an editorial titled “The Death of the Fringe Suburb”. You can read it (link below) for a few days; I am not shortening the link so if it doesn’t connect you can search for it on the New York Times website:
The author, Christopher Bleinberger, makes several points that are relevant to our local housing market in the metro area and specifically Brookside. Much of the housing boom in the late 90s through 2006 was high-end housing in outer ring suburbs (think of all the development near 159th and Metcalf, Platte County, western Shawnee). Since the crash, much of this housing is sitting empty–as the middle class lost jobs and gas prices outpace inflation, buyers (what few there are now) re-thought buying a home 20-30 miles from city amenities and office locations.
And who is today’s buyer? The National Association of Realtors says one half of the total population now are baby boomers (born between 1946 – 1964) and Millenials (born between 1979 – 1996). These buyers want urban downtown areas and suburban town centers (places like Prairie Village, Brookside, the Plaza area, Leawood). They want to walk to shops and restaurants, bike ride to amenities, use public transportation and not spend lots of time in the car. Mr. Bleinberger stresses that governments must give money to what’s known as ‘alternative transportation’ – buses, light rail, bike lanes–rather than only funding freeways and outer roads to nowhere.
I see this buying pattern with my own clients. I am working with Millenials and Boomers, and both want the same thing: updated homes in a neighborhood within a 15 minute drive of the office and walking distance of a grocery store, coffee shop, parks and other everyday city amenities. They do not want the cookie cutter homes of the far-flung suburbs, which are generally built with cheaper materials than older homes.
That brings us to Brookside…and why this area (as well as Leawood, Plaza, Prairie Village, etc) will always be a desirable place to live. For those homeowners who keep their properties updated and well-maintained, there will always be buyers waiting to make an offer. Since 1920, homeowners have valued a Brookside address…and they will continue to do so for the next hundred years. What will the fringe suburbs look like 10 to 50 years from now??