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Old 06-04-2012, 04:30 PM   #81
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Then again, the cartload of groceries that would cost $200 at HEB would probably cost close to $300 at the market here in town, if not more than $300.
It'll always be like that, in general. I think folks imagine that a homey boutique grocery store will open up right down the street and sell sirloin for $2 per pound. If it's small (higher overhead cost per sale, less variety), and convenient (able to charge more for the same things) it will probably be a niche player.
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:34 PM   #82
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It's gonna be a lot less, probably, for us starting on July 1...
LOL - that won't stop us! The convenience and fast free shipping (well, after our annual membership) makes it very worthwhile still.
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:36 PM   #83
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It'll always be like that, in general. I think folks imagine that a homey boutique grocery store will open up right down the street and sell sirloin for $20 per pound. If it's small (higher overhead cost per sale, less variety), and convenient (able to charge more for the same things) it will probably be a niche player.
But this isn't a "homey boutique" grocery store. If it were, especially if it were locally owned and not a significant chain, I'd be more willing to pay higher grocery prices to keep my money even more local.

This is also a chain, albeit a smaller one that mostly serves smaller towns not quite big enough (in Texas terms) to have its own HEB. Its prices are much higher and the selection is generally weaker.
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:37 PM   #84
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I'm jealous. We literally can't walk to anything, the definition of a fringe suburb though we're "only" 9 miles from downtown. We can ride bikes sometimes (and do), but it might be tough in winter. We'd be thrilled if we could just walk to some business or services. If we could walk to a coffee shop, a couple of restaurants and a library - that would be nirvana! I'd be happy to drive other places (I can't carry a weeks worth of groceries for miles so I'd need a car for that chore anyway).

'Hindsight is a wonderful thing' as my Dad always told me, or 'too soon old, too late smart', another of my Dad's lessons lost on me when I was younger.
That was essentially the choice we made by moving here. Outdoor activities within walking and SAFE cycling distance was the priority. BTW - I will not cycle on busy city streets. Here we have bike paths and otherwise back roads with low traffic.

And winter? What's that? Summer I do know well - we get over 6 months of it LOL!
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:57 PM   #85
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I'm jealous. We literally can't walk to anything, the definition of a fringe suburb though we're "only" 9 miles from downtown.
Is that really the definition of a fringe suburb? If so, when I lived in Houston -- actually in the city limits and paid for the privilege -- I was living in a fringe suburb and didn't know it. I lived in a residential area. I couldn't walk to anything unless I wanted it to be a very long walk. I guess theoretically I could have. I wasn't very far from shopping but I certainly never walked anywhere. There was a grocery store about a mile away (which I actually didn't shop at) but and some restaurants but I wasn't tempted to walk.

After that I lived in a house that still had a Houston address but wasn't actually in the city limits. It was perhaps a bit more "fringe" and the grocery store was 10 minutes away. There was a convenience store and a Jack in the Box maybe 5 minutes away. I guess that was more "fringe" but I didn't really think of it as being a fringe suburb either.

Now we live in the next county and the closest grocery store is 20 minutes. It is a good hour to the center of the big city but almost everywhere I want to go is within 30 minutes of my house and that is good enough.

I can perhaps buy the idea that people don't want to have to drive an hour to go to work or to do shopping or even that they don't want to drive 20 minutes to go to the grocery store.

But I think that is a far cry to arguing that there is some great demand to be able to walk to the grocery store or restaurants. Most of the people I know who live in Houston don't walk to those things because residential areas are, well, residential and generally there aren't stores and restaurants within walking distance of most houses (and to the extent there are that usually makes the house less valuable).

I guess what I am saying is that I can understand that people might want to drive shorter distances to amenities but I'm not sure that that means that most people want to walk to them.
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:58 PM   #86
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That was essentially the choice we made by moving here. Outdoor activities within walking and SAFE cycling distance was the priority. BTW - I will not cycle on busy city streets. Here we have bike paths and otherwise back roads with low traffic.

And winter? What's that? Summer I do know well - we get over 6 months of it LOL!
We can walk to the state park with miles of trails for running/walking/biking. It's right out our back gate. Lots of wild life entertainment and pretty views of oak studded hillsides. As another person said we worked years to get to this goal and would not trade it in for the city (although that's nice too).

We are on the very edge of a mid size city and it takes about 5 minutes to get to the market or drug store or Starbucks, etc. For big time entertainment there is San Francisco about an hour away.

I'm not seeing any worrying shrinkage in our town although it has probably stopped growing for now.
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Old 06-04-2012, 05:02 PM   #87
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I'm jealous. We literally can't walk to anything, the definition of a fringe suburb though we're "only" 9 miles from downtown. We can ride bikes sometimes (and do), but it might be tough in winter. We'd be thrilled if we could just walk to some business or services. If we could walk to a coffee shop, a couple of restaurants and a library - that would be nirvana! I'd be happy to drive other places (I can't carry a weeks worth of groceries for miles so I'd need a car for that chore anyway).

'Hindsight is a wonderful thing' as my Dad always told me, or 'too soon old, too late smart', another of my Dad's lessons lost on me when I was younger.
Have you looked into moving, or are there things about your area that outweigh the lack of walkable destinations?
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Old 06-04-2012, 05:14 PM   #88
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Is that really the definition of a fringe suburb?
I may have taken some license there. Best I can tell fringe suburbs are car dependent, outer suburbs at the edge of a city bordering on rural. I think the point is people will necessarily want to drive shorter distances and/or walk to some amenities more in the future (not unlike what your quote below) if the price and/of availability of gas becomes more of an issue. That remains to be seen...
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I guess what I am saying is that I can understand that people might want to drive shorter distances to amenities but I'm not sure that that means that most people want to walk to them.
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:12 PM   #89
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Now we live in the next county and the closest grocery store is 20 minutes. It is a good hour to the center of the big city but almost everywhere I want to go is within 30 minutes of my house and that is good enough.

I can perhaps buy the idea that people don't want to have to drive an hour to go to work or to do shopping or even that they don't want to drive 20 minutes to go to the grocery store.

I guess what I am saying is that I can understand that people might want to drive shorter distances to amenities but I'm not sure that that means that most people want to walk to them.
I live where katsmeow lives, almost exactly. And we will just move closer to town when we are ready to, regardless of whether it is the "best" time from house-selling perspective, as I think our last move will be to a rental (when upkeep in the country is too much).

I don't want to walk anywhere, and the car culture here seems to be stubbornly indifferent to gas prices or economic situations anywhere more sunny than those depicted in Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Not saying it couldn't happen, but I don't see any benefit in the speculation.
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:51 PM   #90
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I was brought up in a neighborhood where all the kids walked or rode bikes to school. A park with a lake, library, swimming pool and a zoo were within easy walking distance, as were grocery stores, restaurants, drugstores, hardware stores, department stores, and churches. This was in the 1950's.

Now that neighborhood is "owned" by gang bangers, dope heads, prostitutes and corrupt politicians. Abandoned and burned houses are everywhere.

I moved to the country and don't plan to move back to the city.
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Old 06-05-2012, 12:03 AM   #91
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Sounds great. Seattle is high on my list of want-to-visit cities.
Any idea of "newer townhouse" prices?
Do you have a recommended hotel in the area?
Since I live here, and have lived here for so long, I really don't know much about hotels. My sister stays at the Renaissance when she comes, she gets some kind of deal there. A flight attendant I knew said her crews always stay at the downtown Sheraton. My ex's Dad stayed there too, and I went to a few conferences there. It is well located, and maybe a bit cheaper than the Renaissance. There are quite a few members on the board who come here frequently; they may be good sources for hotel suggestions. Zero is one person who comes a lot.

About the town homes- google Redfin Seattle. Price so much depends on how the neighborhood is perceived. This thread started out being about urban living, then gentrification, then I don't know what all. Urban living should not be conflated with gentrification, at least in Seattle, where the nice urban neighborhoods have always been more expensive than most suburbs, other than a few upscale ones on the East side of Lake Washington. In recesions the urban neighborhoods hold up, the suburbs go bad. There are these stable, high quality urban neighborhoods. Then there are gentrifying neighborhoods with very good momentum and where I would be willing to bet and live, and other questionably gentrifying ones where I would not be willing to bet or live, and others that I doubt will ever make it in my lifetime anyway. I think access to Link rapid transit is a real plus for one's own use, and it is like getting a warrant on the future. When I went shopping, I got a Link map, with timing, with what was funded and what not yet, etc.

I think in established, well located areas there are pretty nice places from maybe $350k to $850k(usually with view for these expensive ones). For neighborhoods with frequent bus access downtown and little or no issues of "gentrification", look at lower Queen Ann (now called Uptown), First Hill, Capitol Hill, Ballard, farther from downtown but very nice in itself, University District and Ravenna, Green Lake, Fremont. Also really nice, expensive, and having less frequent bus service is Madison Beach (most upscale) and Madison Park. All these have their own character. Capitol Hill and Uptown are closest to downtown-like easy walk from most areas.

The cheapest OK looking town homes are in the areas a bit less far along the gentrifying path, as there are still little bungalows with enough lot that a builder may be able to put together a few and tear them down and build on in front, one in back on a single lot. IMO these suck. There are also nicer town homes that use the whole lot of the teardown, and these are usually at the edges of the well established good neighborhoods. But I think some of these are 5 star, in that the neighborhood change is coming and will not be stopped, yet you can buy a nice place without spending an arm and a leg. Also these are usually in neighborhoods that were once primo, prior to WW2. So the surviving homes are big and pretty, and the trees and such are very pretty.

The only time I looked at townhomes was when I was out on a Sunday with my GF and she wanted to. I like condos and apts better and they are cheaper.

Anything you see on Redfin or elsewhere, pm me and I will be happy to give whatever candid opinion I might have, or I may know nothing. I'm not a real estate guy.


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Old 06-05-2012, 06:07 PM   #92
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When there's a walkable urban environment without noisy neighbors and a constant chorus of barking dogs, I'm in.

Our upcoming trip to Portland will be our walkable environment experience.
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Old 06-05-2012, 07:15 PM   #93
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When there's a walkable urban environment without noisy neighbors and a constant chorus of barking dogs, I'm in.
+1

I consider my home to be a sanctuary of tranquility, and noise shatters it. I'd love to live in a condo or townhouse due to the lower maintenance and lack of yard work -- if I didn't have to constantly worry about sharing walls with noisy people. And although I'm a dog lover, I can do without the neighborhood dogs constantly barking and being allowed to run free and do their thing on my yard.
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Old 06-05-2012, 09:08 PM   #94
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+1

I consider my home to be a sanctuary of tranquility, and noise shatters it. I'd love to live in a condo or townhouse due to the lower maintenance and lack of yard work -- if I didn't have to constantly worry about sharing walls with noisy people. And although I'm a dog lover, I can do without the neighborhood dogs constantly barking and being allowed to run free and do their thing on my yard.
Interesting article. I agree "walkable" city neighborhoods are becoming more popular. In 2008, we sold our big fringe-suburban home on acreage and moved to downtown Seattle (Belltown). While we're in love with city living, we had little trouble finding a buyer for our old place and nothing is being boarded up. The burbs are doing just fine I think.

I would like to mention for you "I'd love to live downtown except for the noise" folks that noise isn't a given. Except for the occasional siren (which you stop noticing after a while) we never hear a neighbor in our condo. Our building is full of dogs and we never hear them bark. Unlike apartments, many modern condos have tremendous noise proofing.

For those worried about security, I feel safer in my high-rise (with secure entry, secure elevators, and 24/7 concierge) than I did in my country home which was in a great neighborhood. In the country, no one can hear you scream. In the city, one phone call and the fuzz is there in a minute. We've never had a problem downtown despite living in the nightlife district.

I don't mention these things to argue what is better, only to point put that many of my own assumptions about city living (noisy, unsafe, impersonal) have turned out to be wrong.

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Old 06-05-2012, 09:35 PM   #95
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I may have taken some license there. Best I can tell fringe suburbs are car dependent, outer suburbs at the edge of a city bordering on rural.
I can certainly see that definition of fringe suburb. I just think that there is a lot of room between fringe suburb and walkable urban. That is, lots and lots of people like in urban areas that aren't particularly walkable. I lived in Houston for years -- not in a suburb at all -- and nothing was walkable unless I wanted to walk a mile or more.

Even for true fringe suburbs -- such as where I live -- I think there may be different variation. The assumption sort of seems to be bedroom community where there are few amenities. Yet, where I am -- 12 minutes away from the closest gas station or convenience store -- there are still major grocery stores and lots of shopping and restaurants within 20 minutes and pretty much everything within 30 minutes. Those are all in the suburban area -- the "big city" is an hour away, but doesn't really seem lacking. The trend that I see -- which may be local -- is not so much people moving into the city for walkable areas but rather more amenities moving to the suburbs and the distinction between suburb and urban area really diminishing.
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:04 PM   #96
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Great post. These articles often predict trends that just don't happen.

Here, after Hurricane Katrina damaged so many houses there was a migration by some to the North Shore of Lake Ponchartrain. Around 2007 the local news media predicted that these new North Shore residents would tire of the 40-60 minute commute and that houses closer in, like mine, would rise in value as they return en masse.

I'm still waiting for that.
Hmmm - when I visit my old New Orleans friends, I am actually visitin Slidell, Covington, Bush and Madisonville - I don't know anyone within the city limits anymore.

Also have friends(bought condo's) in the semi walkable areas of Kansas City.

Not there yet myself - I yearn for a garage with a house attacted. Vistin isn't real unless I'm cranking out 70 -80 mph across the West for 1-2k miles or so.

When I get 'old enough' to put driving pleasure in the past, I shall re-remember my pleasant 2 yrs in Seattle's U District and look for the modern day equivalent.

heh heh heh - American Graffitti isn't out of my system - yet.
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:27 PM   #97
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Great post. These articles often predict trends that just don't happen.

Here, after Hurricane Katrina damaged so many houses there was a migration by some to the North Shore of Lake Ponchartrain. Around 2007 the local news media predicted that these new North Shore residents would tire of the 40-60 minute commute and that houses closer in, like mine, would rise in value as they return en masse.

I'm still waiting for that.
At least one company migrated its offices to the north shore after Katrina, and I suspect others did as well. Its a good way to avoid the second Katrina.
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:33 PM   #98
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At least one company migrated its offices to the north shore after Katrina, and I suspect others did as well. Its a good way to avoid the second Katrina.
Lots of people moved out of state, too, like UncleMick. That's an even better way to avoid "Katrina II". But we still do have a small community here, and some of those spread all over the country during the post-Katrina diaspora have slowly come trickling back.
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:37 PM   #99
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I can certainly see that definition of fringe suburb. I just think that there is a lot of room between fringe suburb and walkable urban. That is, lots and lots of people like in urban areas that aren't particularly walkable. I lived in Houston for years -- not in a suburb at all -- and nothing was walkable unless I wanted to walk a mile or more.

Even for true fringe suburbs -- such as where I live -- I think there may be different variation. The assumption sort of seems to be bedroom community where there are few amenities. Yet, where I am -- 12 minutes away from the closest gas station or convenience store -- there are still major grocery stores and lots of shopping and restaurants within 20 minutes and pretty much everything within 30 minutes. Those are all in the suburban area -- the "big city" is an hour away, but doesn't really seem lacking. The trend that I see -- which may be local -- is not so much people moving into the city for walkable areas but rather more amenities moving to the suburbs and the distinction between suburb and urban area really diminishing.
I lived for 26 years outside the beltway in Houston. While walkable is questionable, bikeable is definite since Houston has the first priority for a bikeable city it is flat! Moved to the hill country but with a 200 foot hill between my house and the main road (uphill to the house) that is no longer bikeable. Surprisingly if you get panniers on a bike you can carry a lot of groceries on a bike. (Essentially you use bike touring gear to go to the grocery). Or to go whole hog get a bike trailer. Of course you will need a shower after going to the store 9 months a year in Houston.
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:17 PM   #100
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When I get 'old enough' to put driving pleasure in the past, I shall re-remember my pleasant 2 yrs in Seattle's U District and look for the modern day equivalent.

heh heh heh - American Graffitti isn't out of my system - yet.
No problem Uncle, just come back home to Seattle's U District. You likely don't remember becasue you were young when there, but lots of happy older people in The U district. Cafe Allegro is (Seattle's oldest and best coffee house), just down the alley from the University Bookstore is where they meet.

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