The Environmental Protection Agency published a March 2009 report analyzing the shift in geography of residential construction. Using building permit data, the research concludes that from 1990 to 2007 residential development increased dramatically within the central city and its core suburbs in several regions
The regions experiencing these development trends are often leaders in growth management such as Portland, Sacramento and Atlanta or metropolitan regions with large and diverse central cities such as New York City, Chicago, and Boston. In addition the report finds that 15 regions including New York City, Chicago, and Portland witnessed the central city doubling its share of residential permits.
The study also found that as the real estate market began to decline in the last few years, the number of residential permits issued within the central city fell less dramatically than was the case in the suburban and exurban jurisdictions
Despite the shift in residential construction patterns, the study notes there was a large share of residential construction that still took place at the periphery of American metropolitan areas. Although, the central city’s share of permits has often increased, it still accounts for a small overall share of the region’s total.
The report examined U.S. Census residential building permit data for the 50 largest metropolitan regions over an 18 year period. Building permits were analyzed to compare the issuance of permits by the central cities and core suburban communities, with those issued by suburban and exurban communities.
The report, Residential Construction Trends in America’s Metropolitan Regions can be found at: www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/pdf/metroresconsttrends09.pdf.