REAL ESTATE AND MOBILITY
New York City’s Battle Against Congestion Begins at the Curb
The dramatic rise of online shopping and the proliferation of home delivery services — a trend fueled further by the Covid-19 pandemic — is straining the city’s already crowded streets, snarling traffic and disrupting life for residents and commuters. About 80% of households in New York City now receive at least one delivery per week; 20% receive four or more, according to NYC DOT data. Curb space, which New York City devotes mostly to parking, is overdue for a reallocation, and this chunk of the Upper West Side is set to be NY DOT’s beachhead.
New York City Is About to Screw Up Congestion Pricing
With all these plans, you could be excused for thinking New York is doing congestion pricing—a potentially transformative policy that would be a first in the nation—right by not only charging drivers to access some of the densest, most valuable land in the world, but also giving them alternatives. Unfortunately, New York isn’t doing that, and in fact looks set to completely screw up congestion pricing so badly it may discredit the policy in a way that makes it harder for other cities to adopt it. Rather than approaching it as a lynchpin to a wide-ranging effort to reshape Manhattan’s relationship to the private car, congestion pricing has become solely about money—specifically, paying off enough of the credit-card bill New York has run up with a variety of ill-conceived and poorly-executed projects that it can get more credit cards. When the congestion pricing switch gets flipped as soon as April, it will be the only switch. All of the major projects I mentioned above won’t be done any time soon.
Micro-Fulfillment: The Next Step to Faster, More Efficient Last-Mile Delivery
The growing trend will be for companies in urban areas or regional population centers to place an infill warehouse development, a repurposed existing building, or a backroom of an active retail store, or a store converted for fulfillment only. These transformed locations turn non-performing real estate into supply chain assets. While there are no hard-and-fast rules, an MFC is typically 3,000 to 10,000 square feet and can hold up to 15,000 different items. Highly compact designs allow for more products per square foot than a conventional warehouse. Smaller companies are also projected to continue pushing into the MFC game due to its entrepreneurial template. It’s a way for modest operators to compete with the largest e-commerce providers to distribute goods and services and save money. Experts estimate that micro-fulfillment reduces cost per order by 75%. On the other side of the coin, the delivery of goods in a last-mile scenario is still the least efficient part of the supply chain, accounting for up to 50%, depending on the industry, of the total delivery cost. Large e-commerce retailers are currently willing to assume these costs to build their infrastructure and command market share.
Denver moves to permanently close some streets to traffic
Two stretches along Larimer Street and one on Glenarm Place in the heart of downtown have entered a city process to stay closed for another five years. After 2028, those closures — backed by business owners and economic development groups — would become permanent if nobody objects. Meanwhile, in neighborhoods, a re-launch of the city’s COVID-19 pandemic partial closure of streets, where road crews placed barriers to slow and deter cars, will bring at least five new pedestrian-friendly streets before 2030 combined with greenspace landscaping and narrowing of lanes, city planners told the Denver Post.
The Geography of Working From Home Begins to Shift Again
The national WFH share fell from 17.9% in 2021 to 15.2% in 2022 — still up a lot from 2019’s 5.7%. The ACS simply asks respondents “How did you usually get to work last week?” with working from home one of the multiple-choice answers, so it misses some of the increase in hybrid work. Monthly surveys conducted for the academic group WFH Research found that about 30% of paid full working days were worked from home in the US in 2022 (and an average of 28.5% so far in 2023), although two researchers from the American Enterprise Institute argued this month that this could be overstating matters for various reasons.
Achieving Housing Abundance Near Transit
The era of the greatest growth in housing abundance in the U.S.—the 1970s—was simultaneously associated with urban sprawl, car reliance, environmental degradation, and disinvestment in historic city centers, all of which reinforced segregated living patterns and reinforced social inequity. New federal infrastructure funding and related policies provide an opportunity to reverse these trends by encouraging coordination of metropolitan housing and transportation plans. Federal funds can also be leveraged to support projects that maximize access to transit and promote the joint development of housing. States and local governments, too, can advance transit-oriented housing abundance. Through zoning reforms, public investments, and strategic planning processes that leverage both housing and transportation resources, it is possible to produce communities that are less car-reliant and offer residents lower costs of living.
New Honda Motocompacto e-Scooter Redefines Personal Urban Mobility as Sleek, Simple and Uniquely Foldable
A fresh take on e-scooters that was inspired by the Honda Motocompo of the early ’80s, the all-new Honda Motocompacto redefines affordable all-electric personal transportation with sleek and simple styling and an innovative, ultra-compact foldable design. Sales will begin exclusively at Motocompacto.honda.com, and at Honda and Acura automobile dealers in November with an MSRP of just $995.
Designing for street livability in the era of driverless cars
This paper focuses on the attributes of disruptive transportation that could either help or hinder street beautification, livability, sustainability, and equity. It provides an overview of the literature and practice, while discussing the benefits and challenges of new and disruptive mobility, focusing primarily on autonomous vehicles (AVs). This leads to a policy framework to guide planners, landscape architects, engineers, and policymakers toward achieving livable cities and neighborhoods in parallel with these innovations.
Congestion and incentives in the age of driverless fleets
The diffusion of autonomous vehicles (AVs) will expand the tools to manage congestion. Differently than fleets of traditional vehicles, operators of fleets of AVs will be able to assign different travelers to different routes, potentially inducing different congestion levels (and speed). We look at the effects of the technological transition from traditional to autonomous vehicles.
A Next Step for Autonomous Buses?
A fully autonomous bus is now in regular service in Scotland. It still has employees, two in fact. But if this technology works out, the ultimate goal is probably to run buses with no employees on board. In wealthy countries, the cost of running a bus is mostly the cost of the driver, so in theory, if and when all the bugs are worked out, a driverless bus could be far more abundant, for a given operating budget, than buses with human drivers can be.
Airlines Are Just Banks Now
Here’s how the system works now: Airlines create points out of nothing and sell them for real money to banks with co-branded credit cards. The banks award points to cardholders for spending, and both the banks and credit-card companies make money off the swipe fees from the use of the card. Cardholders can redeem points for flights, as well as other goods and services sold through the airlines’ proprietary e-commerce portals. For the airlines, this is a great deal. They incur no costs from points until they are redeemed—or ever, if the points are forgotten. This setup has made loyalty programs highly lucrative. Consumers now charge nearly 1 percent of U.S. GDP to Delta’s American Express credit cards alone. A 2020 analysis by the Financial Times found that Wall Street lenders valued the major airlines’ mileage programs more highly than the airlines themselves. United’s MileagePlus program, for example, was valued at $22 billion, while the company’s market cap at the time was only $10.6 billion.
Truck Stops Want In On Those Sweet EV Roadtrip Dollars
The real challenge comes if you want to take your EV on a road trip. That’s something that requires a lot more planning, and as it turns out, truck stops would very much like to be part of that planning. The New York Times recently published a great article that dives into all the work that truck stops are doing to attract EV drivers. And, honestly, even if you’ve never considered visiting a truck stop before, it sounds like the renovations they’re making will soon turn them into some of the best places to charge your EV on a road trip.
The Decline of Condominium Construction in Colorado: Addressing Litigation Reform to Alleviate the Housing Affordability Crisis
Over the past fifteen years, Colorado condominium construction has experienced a severe decline. Condominium development between 2018 and 2022, across 11 front range counties which collectively house over 80% of Colorado’s population, was 76% lower than between 2002 and 2008. This amounted to 14 new apartments for every 1 new condo in recent years, compared to 1 new condo for every 1.25 apartments in the 6 years prior to 2009. Concurrently, Colorado cities have struggled to facilitate a regulatory environment that correlates into an adequate supply of all housing types to meet population growth. From 2008 to 2019, Colorado grew by an annual average of 77,731 new residents but built only 25,682 new homes per year.[i] The overall stagnation of housing development which began at the onset of the Great Recession has manifested into a Colorado housing market that is affordable to only the highest of income earners.
More remote workers are willing to move in order to find affordable housing
At the beginning of the year, 22% of remote and hybrid workers said they would be willing to relocate to a different region or increase their commute. Only 14% such workers were willing to do so in the third quarter of 2021, which is used as a comparison throughout the study and was when many workplaces attempted a “return to work” until the Omicron variant of Covid-19 pushed many employers’ plans back that winter. Workers who are able to break their ties to living in an area because of its proximity to work are able to spread out, reducing the competition for a historically low number of homes for sale that could push prices even higher. The research showed that among remote workers, all age and income groups have grown more willing to relocate or live farther away from their workplace since 2021. But younger workers — those between 18 and 34 — are significantly more willing than those older than them to live or commute a further distance from their work, with the share willing to do so jumping from 18% in 2021, to 30% in 2023.
Rent control laws on the national level? Biden administration offers a not-so-subtle push
In January, the Biden administration announced a blueprint for a renters bill of rights and encouraged federal governmental agencies and politicians to help tenants find, afford and stay in housing. The blueprint is only guidance, not law or policy, on types of protections renters need and how to achieve them. The blueprint explains how different agencies can play a role, but the one that has drawn attention is the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) examining ways to limit “egregious rent increases.”
Amazon and other companies invested in affordable housing. Did it work?
The $1bn that Amazon pledged to invest in the Washington area is gone, and deals there have slowed to a trickle. Projects in Seattle and Nashville are still receiving funds, but by and large, this period of corporate investments in affordable housing is coming to a close. Interest rates and construction costs have soared, and tech companies in particular have laid off thousands of people – including many of their housing staff.
The YIMBYs are coming – Inside the fight to build more housing and bring down home prices
YIMBYism isn’t a new idea, but over the past couple of years it has started to notch small but crucial victories that appear to signal that the movement is becoming more broadly accepted. From coast to coast, cities and states are defying the dominant “Not In My Backyard,” or NIMBY, ideas that have for decades dominated most housing discussions. YIMBYism has gained traction as the affordability crisis has gotten worse. Two-thirds of Americans say it’s hard to find an affordable home where they live. Homelessness is on the rise and a growing share of Americans are rent-burdened or can’t afford to buy a home.
The Big City Where Housing Is Still Affordable
Prosperous cities increasingly operate like private clubs, auctioning off a limited number of homes to the highest bidders. Tokyo is different. In the past half century, by investing in transit and allowing development, the city has added more housing units than the total number of units in New York City. It has remained affordable by becoming the world’s largest city. It has become the world’s largest city by remaining affordable.
Opinion Just look at why it’s so hard to turn offices into homes
This year is on track to reach a record of nearly 100 office towers remade nationwide. But much more progress is needed. Most major cities have about 20 percent of their office space vacant and only about 2 percent currently undergoing a conversion, according to real estate firm CBRE. Cities need a conversion boom to help cut vacancy rates in half, a level that would stabilize property markets and re-create a feeling of pre-pandemic vibrancy. Right now, the challenges facing developers — financial and architectural — are too often prohibitive.