By: Tony Semerad
On: Salt Lake Tribune
More people are moving to Utah just as many millennials are taking a new look at homebuying instead of renting.
To offer enough affordable homes and keep the state’s economy on the mend in the COVID-19 era, cities and developers may need to do something radical. They may need to go back in time.
At least, back to when homebuilders focused more on single-family houses with bigger lots, an approach to growth that many planners now view as “sprawl” and that rapidly expanded the Wasatch Front metropolitan area.
Top researchers at a Houston think tank brought that vision to Utah leaders this week, arguing the state should put aside its “smart growth” strategies of higher-density homes around business centers in favor of what they call “smart sprawl.”
They point to the rising exodus from places like San Francisco and New York, with people fleeing closely built apartments and condominiums for Utah’s more open spaces and lower cost of living.
“If we’re going to see future lockdowns, which is not beyond the pale, what you’ll find is that you’re a lot better off in a house with a backyard than you are in a one-bedroom apartment,” said Joel Kotkin, an author and presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University in Southern California.