News & Research Archive

How Gas Prices Could Effect Urban Markets

Jun 02, 2008


Prior to the introduction of the automobile most people either lived in large urban areas or small town farming communities. Starting after World War II, cheap gas sent families out of the urban areas into the suburbs. Throughout the sixties and seventies many major cities throughout the United States saw a steep reduction of total population in their cities. Detroit and Philadelphia were examples that were ranked top in population and over a short period of time saw a dramatic fall as large influential suburban hubs attracted the population. Cities began to stabilize and in some cases grow over the last ten years as they began to transform themselves as new urban living opportunities including live-work type homes, new condos and attractive apartment living with amentias opened up. A younger population along with baby boomers ready to experience a new life after kids has found urban living attractive once again.


So how will gas prices affect urban living? Will families find it too expensive to live in the suburbs and consider coming back to the city regardless of the higher housing costs? Will businesses re-consider office space in suburbs in favor of urban markets that offer better mass transportation opportunities to get their employees to and from work? Will people accept living closer together in more high-density living units as developers squeeze more and more units in less and less available land?


Signs say yes. San Francisco continues to see higher housing prices in the face of a continued downward trend in housing throughout most suburban markets close to it. Philadelphia has seen an increase in its population for the first time in over 25 years.


Los Angeles, a city that had virtually no downtown residential community for over 60 years, now sees an explosion of condos, live work units and high-density apartments built in the core downtown area.


Cities of course have to plan for this potential growth now. Mass transportation, public parks and recreation areas will be keys to welcome families back to urban markets. Suburbs to survive will have to find new and innovative ways to keep families in their areas by providing better mass transportation opportunities while also finding ways to create incentives for companies to continue to consider urban markets for their businesses.


Written by: Hans Hansson


Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 23 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,

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