Trends in Real Estate for 2017: "SURBAN" LIVING

Not ‘Mixed-Use’ but ‘Surban’

There’s been plenty written about the move from suburban-style sprawl — marked by McMansions and strip malls — to more dense communities of different housing arrangements, such as town houses, apartments and single-family homes, together in the same neighborhoods. In 2017, look for a new name for it: surban.

“Existing suburban neighborhoods are adding urban amenities so that there’s an environment where people can live, work and play right outside of the core part of the city,” said Peter Burley, a real-estate executive in Oak Park, Ill., an urbanized inner-ring Chicago suburb.

“These developments are more than simply mixed-use,” said Danielle Leach, a senior consultant at John Burns Real Estate Consulting in Chicago, who as a single mom lives in such a community in St. Charles, Ill., with two teen boys. “Surban living is becoming a new way of life for many: where the blend of urban and suburban living provides the best of both worlds,” she said. With surban living, it’s possible to walk to work, like in a city, as well as enjoying pedestrian access to groceries, entertainment and youth- and sport-friendly parks — plus reliably strong public schools.

John Burns Consulting expects nearly 80% of residential growth to occur in suburban communities over the next 10 years — up from 71% from 2010 to 2015 — compared to just 15% for “urban” areas through 2025.

Surban neighborhoods are designed to be inclusive, rather than exclusive, said Bill Endsley, of the International Real Estate Federation, a Washington, D.C.–based international real-estate consulting group, making them affordable to teachers, firefighters, police and janitors.

“The more we go down the road of exclusive development, the more problems we have,” including traffic congestion, air pollution and sprawl, Endsley said. He cited a rundown mall site in San Jose, Calif., which was turned into “Santana Row,” a booming destination in the high-priced Silicon Valley, that includes affordable housing.

Credit: Daniel Goldstein, MarketWatch