MPR had this segment on the other day that explains why our slow housing development in the Twin Cities is actually one of our strengths. The argument goes that since we have not build for the sake of building in the Twin Cities, it has actually helped with the future projects.
Only 9 percent of the region's new housing permits were issued in the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and only 19 percent in so called developed or close in suburbs -- places like St. Louis Park and Roseville.
Rick Packer said the EPA smart growth numbers for Minneapolis and St. Paul don't tell the whole story. Packer is a former Coon Rapids city planner, a former member of the Metropolitan Council and as a businessman he's spent more than 25 years buying land for suburban housing developments.
Packer argues one reason the housing numbers appear to be low is the two cities have managed to avoid the worst ravages of urban blight that hollowed out some other American cities over the past 40 years creating big swatches of land ripe for redevelopment.
It seems the Twin Cities are bit better off because we avoided the boom and bust model that so many cities have experienced with the current housing bubble. While the suburbs did continue to grow, the cities at least seem to be on a more steady stream in regards to housing production. I guess more good news it with the current foreclosures I am sure we will see more rehabs than we will with new construction starts.
Note: I just looked at the raw data and the region as a whole is pretty flat. The big difference is that 60% + of housing starts are in the 1st ring suburbs, which actually means that we are not continuing to sprawl, while only 8% of starts were in urban fringe.