Urban Planning

If You Want More Urban Infill and Less Greenfield, then Infill Needs to Be a Lot less Regulated : urbanplanning

One of the biggest disadvantages infill has, at least in older cities is regulatory. By far it is easier to get a Greenfield project approved then it is to get an infill project approved. In states like California where Greenfield has been shutdown, getting either approved is basically impossible.

In suburbs or Greenfields as long as your project complies with the relevant zoning and general plan it will most likely be approved in a timely manner, for urban Infill even a compliant project might not be approved. In general big cities often take years to approve projects, this time adds substantial cost and you may run out of money as a developer before even getting approval. You also have high impact fees imposed developers and affordability requirements. There is also the disadvantage of Historic preservation ordinances which limit developable land. Height and floor area limits restrict how efficiently you can use high priced land; the main method of offsetting higher urban land prices is by adding floors. In Sunbelt cities like Houston, Dallas or Atlanta, despite their sprawl, it is far easier to create infill there.

The regulatory problems with cities here:

https://hbr.org/1995/05/the-competitive-advantage-of-the-inner-city

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