economy Markets

The End Of Urbanization? Sam Zell Says ‘Stop Hiding Out In The Hamptons’

Sam Zell is concerned about American cities. And you can probably guess why. Over the past couple of weeks, I've spent quite a bit of time pondering the somewhat dystopian prospect of a mass exodus from the country's urban centers. Proximity to other humans is something I gave up on long ago, abandoning Manhattan for a comparatively blissful existence spent in almost total isolation. Most Americans aren't likely to follow my lead, but the combination of COVID-19 and some of the most dramatic social unrest seen since the 1960s has compelled many city dwellers to embrace new, suburbanite identities. With many companies set to extend work-from-home arrangements in perpetuity, the appeal of the larger living spaces on offer outside the city is growing. The relative "social distance" that goes along with a suburban existence likely makes fleeing overcrowded, downtown apartments and townhomes seem like a prudent (even necessary) step, even for those accustomed to immersion in city life. From where Zell is sitting, this is potentially problematic. "Everybody is being impacted by issues of safety", he told CNBC's Joe Kernen on Wednesday, before suggesting that Chicagoans were "surpri
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7 comments on “The End Of Urbanization? Sam Zell Says ‘Stop Hiding Out In The Hamptons’

  1. Emptynester says:

    First of all, I would like to say that I am completely with you on New Zealand.

    Also, I am a big Sam Zell fan- but I think that what is happening goes even beyond the trend he was discussing.

    Corporations have figured out that they can significantly reduce overhead with, what is currently believed to be, only minimal disruption to their business. Much cheaper to have their employees use their own homes (paid for by employees, not employer) for office space than to rent corporate office space.
    Urbanites are also moving to geographically beautiful areas ( i.e. river, lake, mountains, ocean etc.) and, if possible, resort communities. Mountain resort residences are “flying off the shelf” in Colorado. Why settle for a move to the burbs if you can live in a physically beautiful environment and get outside in nature during the non-working hours of your life?
    Public schools are so bad in many communities that online school won’t seem so bad given covid- which can be done from anywhere.
    The possibility of future continuing violence and unlawful behavior in urban areas is very, very scary- especially if that is where you are spending your money to live.

  2. calh0025 says:

    I doubt this is any kind of end but cost of living in many urban centers is so far beyond what even generally high salaries can afford that it was either going to fully devolve into foreign investment or begin to disperse a bit. Many markets even the suburbs and exurbs are so overheated that you need to go 40 to 50 miles outside of downtown before you start to see declining rents or home prices.

  3. libero says:

    Most of the people that can pack up and move away are the more wealthy who pay most of the taxes that support the city centers.

  4. First…it should be increasingly clear that a lot of the violence is not random. it is being orchestrated.
    Second…one of the joys of city life is the variety of first rate arts centered entertainment. Most of which is shut down during the Covid pandemic out of necessity. Combine that with the best restaurants and sports venues and there is a lot that cities have to offer.
    Third…a lot of the best health care is found in the large metropolitan areas.
    So it’s not all bad.

    • Tom says:

      Agree on all points.

      The majority of young professionals like to live in urban environments that are rich in social and cultural options. Most cities also have a variety of nearby venues for outdoor activities for weekend or even day getaways.

  5. Mr. Lucky says:

    There is a good deal of scientific evidence that cities are like animals, the larger and more dense they are, the more efficient they are. Large cities use less energy and resources per capita than smaller cities. Less energy useage means a lower carbon footprint. There is a distinct curve that is nearly the same for an elephant or a whale as it is for a very large city. If too many people move out that advantage will be lost.

  6. Vlad is Mad says:

    While H loves an island, it is not really my taste. The Alps are more my taste. Anyway, I left the city earlier this year although it was pre-COVID. This is an interesting debate because as mentioned the cities have some attractive elements, but it is also true that tastes change. Collecting antique furniture used to be a thing and now hardly anyone sees any value in that. Still, one is right to be a little skeptical of sweeping pronouncements about the future. Nevertheless, its potential impact can be profound so it is good that we are discussing it.

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