One-third of Wasatch Front residents will want to live in a downtown setting or an area with urban amenities by 2040, according to the University of Utah's new director of metropolitan research.
To meet that projected demand, Arthur C. Nelson said, 60 percent of all new residential development from Logan to Provo needs to be in or near downtown areas, or contained in suburban centers such as Daybreak.
"I think I'm being conservative," Nelson told architects and local business leaders Wednesday while presenting the Wasatch Metropolitan Report at the Wells Fargo Center.
The findings indicate there's an urgent need for planners, developers and government officials to work together to prepare for a shift from suburban neighborhoods to urban-style living, where residents can walk or use transit to get around as easily as by car.
Nelson, who joined the University of Utah as a presidential professor July 1, is "one of the nation's foremost authorities on development patterns and trends," said Brenda Case Scheer, dean of the university's College of Architecture and Planning.
Using his own formula for processing nationwide demographic surveys, housing data and market trends, Nelson projects that the population along the Wasatch Front will jump to nearly 4.2 million by 2040 almost doubling the 2005 count.
Of those Wasatch Front residents, about 1 percent or 40,000 will want to live in downtown Salt Lake City, according to his projections. Another 1 percent will opt for urban areas in secondary cities, such as Ogden or Sandy.
About 5 percent (more than 200,000) will want to be close enough to enjoy the amenities of downtown living without actually living downtown, Nelson said.
"They want to be close to transit, close to restaurants, shopping and other urban ambiance," he said.
Finally, Nelson says about 25 percent more than 1 million people will want to live in suburban areas that are pedestrian-friendly, such as Daybreak in South Jordan, where businesses, restaurants, schools, churches and parks are located within walking distance of homes.
The housing shift stems from several factors, Nelson said, including increased energy demands, revised financial realities and changing quality-of-life preferences. A big reason, he said, is the changing demographics of Wasatch Front residents.
Utah is following the nationwide trend, although at a slower pace, of households without children. In 2000, families with children occupied about 37 percent of households along the Wasatch Front 4 percent higher than the national average. By 2040, Nelson estimates that children will be found in only 29 percent of Wasatch Front households.
"One of the reasons we have childless households growing at a fairly rapid pace is we're aging," he said. And because the average lifetime keeps getting longer, there are more "empty-nesters" people who have finished raising their children, he said.
"The losers are the suburbs," Nelson said. "Why? Because the suburbs are designed primarily to help families raise children."
The death of indoor malls, strip malls and some big-box shopping centers present an opportunity to prepare for the housing shift, he said. Such structures are built to last about 20 to 40 years before they need to be replaced.
They also have some built-in development advantages: They're large, flat, well-drained and usually have good access.
Between now and 2040, another 800 million square feet of commercial and office space will be needed to accommodate job-growth projections along the Wasatch Front, he said. In addition, about 1 billion square feet will need to be torn down and rebuilt."That's 1.8 billion total square feet of nonresidential space that will have to be constructed over a 35-year period," Nelson said. "This is the principal opportunity we have in the Wasatch Front to recast and reshape our built environment. ... This is our future."
- Josh Powell made 'admission of guilt' in...
- Tornado relief spurs LDS Church, Layton's...
- Letters to family show Steven Powell still...
- Couples registry gets preliminary nod from...
- 2 Utah high schools ranked among the best in...
- Police locate West Point teen called 'person...
- 4 reasons why you need to paraglide at Point...
- Frances Monson, wife of LDS prophet, passes away
- Mia Love announces she's officially... 43
- S.L. draws up airport plans 32
- GOP delegates reject changes to... 31
- Couples registry gets preliminary nod... 29
- XanGo co-founder accuses partners of... 23
- 'We're here to serve all boys,' Utah... 22
- Search for Susan Cox Powell is over,... 21
- Gov. Gary Herbert tells Washington... 17