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New Urbanism and Traditional Neighborhood Developments Are Retro Trends, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

New Urbanism, or traditional neighborhood development (TND) represent a strong trend among developers in many parts of America.  TND is an attempt to create an old-fashioned aura in a newly built neighborhood.  Typical elements include small lots, front porches and other features that encourage being outdoors, meeting your neighbors and walking or cycling (rather than driving) through the neighborhood.  The architecture is frequently pre-1940s in style, and easy-to-walk-to retail spaces are often incorporated, sometimes in a town-center style.  Also, live-work buildings are frequently placed in special parts of the neighborhood, encouraging entrepreneurs or professionals to work downstairs and live upstairs.

The most noted TND is a community in Florida called Seaside, , which has been in place for more than a decade.  Many other TNDs are attempting to emulate Seaside’s success, which is based partly on its beachfront location, a tried-and-true draw for the retiree crowd and vacationers looking for something different from life back home.

TNDs are not necessarily instant successes, and they may not be suitable for development in many areas.  To begin with, while many developers like the concept because municipal governments are likely to approve smaller lots in higher density arrangements, some elements of TNDs are more expensive to build, such as period streetlights, cobblestone streets or dense landscape.  Also, the retail space offered in town-center sections of TNDs is often difficult to rent, resulting in costly high vacancy rates and unsightly empty storefronts.  These high costs were especially problematic in the recent economic crisis, and caused new projects to be delayed or shelved altogether.



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