Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Downtowns Are Ready for Big Revival

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Downtowns Are Ready for Big Revival

Article excerpt

For generations, families that were moving up also moved away from downtown.

Now it appears that trend is reversing in a way that spells a renaissance for American central cities.

Author Alan Ehrenhalt calls it "The Great Inversion." That's the opening title of his new book, "The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City."

Ehrenhalt doesn't see the suburbs disappearing. But he does see strong reasons why young people and many boomers are gravitating to the excitement and vitality of core cities.

For Jacksonville, it appears that the two mixed-use developments on Riverside Avenue, bringing 600 new housing units, may indicate the beginning of a major new trend. The One Spark events downtown and Riverside Arts Market are just the opening salvos of a revival of activity in the core city.

FIFTH GREAT MIGRATION

Ehrenhalt calls it the current great migration in America.

First: Moving west to new frontiers.

Second: From farms to factory towns.

Third: Moving to jobs in big cities.

Fourth: From city centers to suburbs.

Fifth: Moving back to city centers that will stimulate a revival spurred by the white upper middle class.

Ehrenhalt says it is not like gentrification; it is bigger than that. It's a rearrangement of living patterns across an entire metropolitan area at the same time.

And he doesn't see massive new skyscrapers right in downtown but housing near downtowns.

The roles of cities and suburbs will nearly reverse, he says. People will be willing to have less living space in return for more shared urban territory.

"We are living at a moment in which the massive outward migration of the affluent that characterized the second half of the 20th century is coming to an end," Ehrenhalt wrote. "And we need to adjust our perceptions of cities, suburbs and urban mobility as a result."

He's referring to places like Riverside-Avondale, Springfield, San Marco and St. Nicholas.

REASONS FOR NEW URBANISM

- Increasing numbers of singles, both young and old. In 2030, only a quarter of American households will be raising children. It was 50 percent in the 1950s. …

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