If You Lived Here,You'd Be Downtown By Now

Demographics, interest rates, and shrinking office rentals make for a downtown residential boom

In addition, because the metro area encompasses the wealthier suburbs, 50 percent of the metro median income is actually quite high--more than $37,000 for a family of four, meaning that developers can satisfy the affordable housing requirement by selling or renting units to people solidly ensconced in the middle class, at a price that's beyond the reach of the working poor. Meanwhile, the city will probably never come close to replacing the 3,500 units of affordable housing--much of it in residential hotels--torn down between 1970 and 1990.

"I have spent a career working on affordable housing issues," says Lisa Goodman, "and it's hard to get around the fact that land value drives housing costs and the land values downtown are very expensive. It's the same reason we can't get a grocery store downtown, because land costs are so high and grocery [profit] margins are so low. For developers, the construction costs and land costs aren't much less if they're building affordable housing, so why sell one for $130,000 and another for $250,000 or more?"

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