Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Who Would Have Thought It?

If someone had told us twenty years ago that the center city's residential properties would be holding value better than those in the suburbs--better even than direct waterfront--we probably would have scoffed. It's clear right now that the hot market is New Haven--the closer to downtown, the better.

This isn't by accident. President Levin of Yale, who has been in office for fifteen years, lived in New Haven for many years before he became Yale's leader (and, in fact, has continued to live in his own home, rather than the one that Yale provides). He has made it clear that he would be happy if every new hire lived there as well. The last time that I heard, 47% of Yale's senior faculty lived within the city limits. In today's New Haven Advocate, the stated equivalents of New Haven's municipal police and firefighters were 13% and 17%. Yale's showing clearly represents the payoff of a long-term strategy.

There is another factor at work, however. Current demographics favor the central city, although this is a change from earlier generations. Young professionals have always preferred urban life, but now, increasingly, so do empty nesters. The arts, the dining, the conveniences, and the lack of commuting time have all contributed to make New Haven a popular housing choice. Even those with school-age children, if those children attend one of the city's prestigious private schools, have been moving into the city neighborhoods.

And that's all good news for the region, since a vibrant city makes for healthier suburbs.