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Smart Growth

Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions: 2010 and 2009 Editions

Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions: 2009 Edition

The 2009 and 2010 editions of Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions discuss changes over time in where people choose to live and build their homes. Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions 2009 examined data from 1990 to 2007. EPA expanded the data set to include 2008 data for Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions 2010.

This analysis was intended to clarify:

  • Whether there has been a shift toward redevelopment.
  • Which regions have seen the most significant change.

Both reports indicated that the distribution of residential construction changed significantly in many regions. In more than half of the largest metropolitan areas, the share of new residential building permits that were in urban neighborhoods had dramatically increased.

  • In 15 regions, urban neighborhoods had more than doubled their share.
  • The increase was particularly dramatic from 2002 to 2008, showing that the trend of increasing development in urban neighborhoods continued in the wake of the real estate market downturn.

In many regions, however, a large portion of new residential construction was still taking place on previously undeveloped land on the urban fringe.

The 2010 report showed that:

  • Redevelopment in urban neighborhoods added up to more than half of new residential construction in only one metropolitan region: New York.
  • In eight regions, redevelopment in urban neighborhoods accounted for one-quarter to one-half of new construction:
    • Chicago, Illinois
    • Dallas, Texas
    • Los Angeles, California
    • Miami, Florida
    • Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Virginia
    • Portland, Oregon
    • San Diego, California
    • San Francisco, California
  • In 18 regions, redevelopment in urban neighborhoods significantly increased but accounted for less than one-quarter of new residential units.
  • In six regions, there was very little change in urban neighborhoods' share of new residential construction.

For questions about the 2009 and 2010 reports, please contact John Thomas (202-566-1285, thomas.john@epa.gov).

For updated analysis, see Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions: 2012 Edition. See the main Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions page for more context on these trends.

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