Fronteras: the Changing America Desk reporters are visiting communities across the Southwest to gauge what life is like in a post economic housing boom. It’s part of an all-new series called Beyond Sprawl - Rethinking the Southwestern Economy, Nov. 28 – Dec. 2, on listener-supported KJZZ 91.5.
Reporters invite listeners to share stories about ways in which the housing economy has affected their lives by contacting Public Insight Journalist Nick Blumberg at (480) 774-8231 or [email protected].
Listeners are also encouraged to participate in a Beyond Sprawl Town Hall meeting. The new date for the meeting is Tue., Jan. 17, 2011, 7-9 p.m. at Rio Salado College’s Conference Center, 2323 W. 14th St., Tempe, AZ. Space is limited; please contact Kelley Simpson at (480) 774-8455 or [email protected] to reserve seats.
Media outlets are welcome to share stories and facts from the Beyond Sprawl series with their audiences. To preview the series or to schedule interviews with KJZZ reporters, please contact Mark Moran, Associate General Manager, News and Editorial Strategy for KJZZ, Fronteras: the Changing America Desk at (480) 774-8230 or [email protected].
About the series:
Single-family home construction has been one of the most powerful engines of economic growth for much of the Southwest since World War II. The current economic recession, however, has decimated the housing industry and some economists suggest it may never rebound. There are also significant demographic changes, which could possibly change the face of our suburbs forever. If growth does return, it may look very different than it has in the past.
Beyond Sprawl will examine Zombie subdivisions -- half-built housing developments in the suburbs -- and what communities are doing to manage them for the future, as well as life in new, co-housing developments that are trying to accommodate the changing demographics of 21st century communities. The series will also look at urban movements to create “live, work and play” communities, the impact of foreign investors who are taking advantage of historically low housing prices and how southwestern cities are trying to transition their weakening construction industry into more promising high-tech industries.
Tune into KJZZ's Morning Edition (3-9 a.m.) and All Things Considered (3-6 p.m.) to hear these stories and then check back for additional resources and links to hear them online.
NOV. 28 - RETHINKING THE PAST: ZOMBIE SUBDIVISIONS - Peter O’Dowd
Zombie subdivisions are half-built housing developments scattered across Maricopa County. They are symbols of our past mistakes, our ferocious rush to build, and a reminder that during this lull we have reached a turning point. Some economists are pushing the concept of “Smart Decline” -- a recognition that shrinking a city in decay may be more sustainable than promoting rampant growth. The practice may be hard to swallow in the wide-open West, but some cities hit hardest by the housing bust acknowledge the importance of re-thinking old models of growth.
NOV. 28 - PIN POSTCARD: WATCHING THE BUST FIRST-HAND
A first-person commentary from Phoenix realtor Laura Oeinck, who became a realtor in August 2008, during the real estate bust. In January 2009, she also began working for a company that sent her to visit homeowners who were delinquent on their mortgages. She gives a compelling and poignant description of what she saw firsthand as foreclosures began to devastate neighborhoods and sweep from the suburbs toward the city.
NOV. 29 - RETHINKING RESIDENTIAL: CUL-DE-SACS OF THE FUTURE- Devin Browne
Growth in the housing market of the Southwest isn't over, it’s just changing. In the next 10 to 20 years, more people will want rentals, multi-family homes, and denser “urban-lite” communities. Fewer people may be moving to the southwest. A group of professors and grad students at ASU took these kinds of demographic projections and created the ideal cul-de-sac of 2030.
NOV. 30 - RETHINKING DOWNTOWN: GAMBLING ON DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS - Jude Joffe-Block
Like most sunbelt cities, the Las Vegas growth model was to expand out, creating sprawling suburbs and distant gated communities. But one local company thinks a dense, urban setting would be better for its employees and the Vegas economy. In 2013, the online shoe company Zappos will move its campus from Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas, to downtown, literally into the City Hall offices. Under the Zappos’ master vision, the downtown area, which is better known for casinos, bars, weekly motels and pawnshops, will one day boast yoga studios, tea lounges and co-working space for other tech entrepreneurs. Zappos' CEO is putting in hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money as seed money into the project, since he believes a vibrant downtown will foster productivity and innovation in the long run.
DEC. 1 - RETHINKING BUYERS: FOREIGN ANGELS? - Jude Joffe-Block
With housing prices in Las Vegas falling to levels not seen since the 1990's, foreign investors are seeing opportunity. Investors from Canada, Asia and Latin America are buying up properties sight unseen, often with cash, that they then pay property management companies to rent out. Some Las Vegas realtors are saying these international investors are the valley's best hope for getting homes out of the saturated market, and ultimately, driving up home values again.
DEC. 2 - RETHINKING JOBS: BEYOND CONSTRUCTION - Jill Replogle
When we were booming, the Southwest was stocked with cheap construction labor. Now more than one million construction workers are unemployed, and many have left the industry altogether. Economists say if this region is going to continue to grow, we need new jobs in industries that innovate and export. In San Diego and San Antonio, it’s health care and biotech, which appear to have weathered the recession much better than the economy as a whole. But like other promising high-tech industries, biotech companies often can't find the skilled workers they need because of the so-called "skills gap". We look at efforts to train low-skilled workers for a future in health care and biotech.
JAN. 17 - TOWN HALL MEETING AT RIO SALADO COLLEGE
Director of Development Services Brent Billingsley from the City of Maricopa tells
KJZZ News Director Peter O’Dowd about plans to develop a church on land once destined
for houses as part of the report, Rethinking the Past: Zombie Subdivisions on Nov. 28.
KJZZ’s Fronteras: the Changing America Desk is made possible in part by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and APS.