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Suburban HOME?

September 20, 2019



The U.S. census tells us that over 80% of Connecticut residents live in an “urban center”. It is safe to say that most of the 20% who live outside cities like Stamford or Bridgeport live in “suburbia”. Its become conventional wisdom that homeowners are moving back to the city. So what is the future of suburbia?
The 20th century failure of farming in Connecticut made all that deforested land for single-family homes.

The Greatest Generation and their children, the Baby Boomers who built this wave of houses are now aging out of dominating the housing market. The children of we Boomers have left all those homes built for them, and they are taking longer to get married, if at all, and living with roommates in rentals well into their 30’s, abandoning cars and working on the internet, rejecting the commuter life their parents created. More and more adults are fully connected by that Internet, not to any physical community or place.

Arthur C. Nelson, a professor at the University of Arizona advocates subdividing existing unsellable McMansions into three or four new versions of “townhouse” units. Many towns which once rejected any second or third homes on sites designed for single-family use are now encouraging the creation of accessory apartments to allow for independent, multiple occupants on existing sites. The new  “Air B&B” industry has changed entire community use patterns once used for single-family zoning. Additionally technology now allows for greater density, as new septic systems are allowing for less area and poorer soils in waste accommodation, increasing the capacity of existing sites to harbor more people without central septic systems.

When combined with many towns actively rewriting zoning laws to accommodate apartments over stores and offices, the future of suburbia is shifting to a place that might end up functioning more like 19thcentury towns and villages: fewer cars, but more buildings and people per acre.
What was old, is new, again.

Join the director of ACE, Joan Arnold, a not for profit actively revisioning suburbia, George Karl, the Director of Planning for Guilford, Connecticut, and Sara Bronin, an architect, law professor at the University of Connecticut and chairperson of Hartford’s Planning and Zoning Commission for a great hour!

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