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April 18, 2008

With real estate running scarce and increasingly expensive in cities around the world, here's a way to still live in an urban environment - albeit in a very, very small space!  Its all about the backpack apartment which consists of a cube-made element.  The backpack apartment is constructed with a welded steel cage and a light birch veneered plywood interior cladding. The height of the top floor of the cube element is approximately eleven feet and the total weight of the sculpture is about two tons.


What do you think - is this something you would like to see in your city and would you consider living in a backpack apartment?  Note to City Zoning-by-law inspectors: Beware!

Aleem Kanji

March 14, 2008

Guest Blogger - Aleem Kanji, Creative Class Group

Statistics Canada recently examined where the smartest people in Toronto, Canada live by census tract.  Ironically, we are all in good company, with 46% of folks that are twenty-five years of age and older having a post-graduate degree - apparently the highest percentage across the 5.5 million people that live in the Greater Toronto Area.  Richard and Rana's neighborhood, along with mine and my wife Salma's all closely border this brainy census tract here in Toronto.

What do you think?  Is this just academic ?

Aleem Kanji

August 22, 2007

In addition to seeing hybrids all over the place, I see a lot of Zipcars and Flexcars in metro areas. (To be honest, it bothers me that they get reserved spots with no meters in many towns, but I digress.) This new model of car ownership/use, the sharing model, seems to be taking off and many innovative organizations are getting on board.

Equity Residential Properties, a huge publicly traded apartment building operator, recently inked a deal with Zipcar to provide cars and spaces at some of its properties. Today's WSJ (sub req'd) features an article by Darren Everson highlighting how Zipcar is 'driving' into the college market by inking deals with Universities to put cars in and around campuses.

Perhaps Detroit's long suffering car makers should think about this new model of ownership in trying to revive US sales/revenues? With many of the user's of car share services in college and just starting their careers, this seems like a growing consumption trend that Detroit would want to take advantage of?

posted by David

August 17, 2007

Edag270_ranson_20070816230756_2 Its hard to avoid talking about housing in the US right now. From the supposed 'sub-prime' meltdown to slow sales and rising mortgage rates; writers, pundits, and traders are having a field day. Check out this fascinating Op-Ed by David Ranson in today's WSJ (sub required). He offers some great economic insights from Milton Friedman and argues that US housing is undervalued right now. Its always nice to listen to  theories that challenge the conventional wisdom. Read the long snippet below and let us know if its time to go house hunting for a bigger place!

posted by David

Continue reading "Creative View of Real Estate Value" »

July 30, 2007

Richard has written extensively on the role of the University in the Creative Economy... (check out the library for pieces by Richard including The University and The Creative Economy by Richard, Gary, Kevin, and Brian). His work has informed my work on the benefits of starting new ventures on campuses.

A recent story in the WSJ by Thaddeus Herrick (available w/out a sub via AOL) shows that corporations are beginning to try new strategies in leveraging the benefits of the university in the creative economy. Express Scripts, Inc., a company that does $18 billion in pharmacy benefits management, is relocating its HQ to the University of Missouri's St. Louis Campus. From the piece,

Continue reading "Big Corporation on Campus" »

July 11, 2007

Web_marthastewart While many think that tattoos and piercings are typical of all creative class members, Martha Stewart and her empire embody many elements of the creative class theory -- from a focus on design and supporting the creativity of customers to building a career  that allows for one's passion to play a central role. According to a new WSJ article (sub required) by Michael Corkery, creative class Queen, Martha Stewart has been very effective in using her creativity to sell homes in a weakening housing market. From the piece...

"All across the country, home builders are gasping for air as sales plunge, inventories rise and profits disappear. But in one small corner of the housing market, the sales picture is a little brighter: There is steady demand for houses designed in part by Martha Stewart and built by Los Angeles-based KB Home.

Here in the Atlanta area, where new-home sales dropped 20% in the first quarter of 2007, traffic at Martha-KB new-home developments has been steady. The largest Martha-KB Home development has been outselling the average Atlanta subdivision 2 to 1, according to SmartNumbers, a real-estate information and analysis firm, based in Marietta, Ga."

While some core creatives may never be interested in a Martha Stewart home, there are other members of the group who are clearly interested in letting her design a warm, welcoming home for them. (A longer segment of the article is available after the jump).

Posted by David

Continue reading "Creative Class Queen Bucks Housing Market Trends" »

May 31, 2007

A little article in yesterday's WSJ, highlights how even the most popular companies are having to alter their plans/strategies in order to attract the most talented. Here is the blurb:

"One trend affecting those markets: Some traditional Silicon Valley employers have been looking for space in San Francisco because they have found their younger work force prefers an urban environment to the sprawling tech campuses. Google Inc., based in Mountain View, Calif., already subleased space at San Francisco's Hills Plaza from Gap Inc."

posted by David

May 28, 2007

Richard Florida

"Falling Star Cities"

Robert Shiller of Irrational Exuberance fame takes on "super-star cities."

In a much-talked-about recent paper entitled "Superstar Cities," economists Joseph Gyourko, Christopher Mayer, and Todd Sinai argue that such high-status cities - not only London, Paris, and New York, but also cities like Philadelphia and San Diego - may show an "ever-widening gap in housing values" when compared with other cities  The authors seem to be saying, in effect, that a housing boom in these areas can go on forever. ... Many people view the superstar city theory as confirming their hunch that, despite the current slowdown in home prices elsewhere ..., investors can expect to make huge long-term gains by buying homes in these cities, even though the homes there are already expensive. But, as I have said in my debates with the authors, if one reads their paper carefully and thinks about the issues, one would see that there is no reason to draw such a conclusion.

(pointer via Mark Thoma). Shiller is a smart-guy, but I line up squarely with Gyourko and company.  Surely, a huge segment of the housing market is in for a blood-bath, but the advent of the spiky world ensures that super-star markets globally will outpace the rest. BTW, Gyourko et al say clearly the super-star cities are not immune from sharp ups and down. But that in the long-run their rate of appreciation far outpaces everywhere else.

Continue reading ""Falling Star Cities"" »

May 24, 2007

In marketing circles, green is the new black right? Drive a Prius, buy organic, and now, when home shopping, you must use an 'Eco-broker.' Check out this article by Lauren Tara LaCapra at RealEstateJournal.com. From the piece,

"More than 1,000 agents have taken a $395 course offered by a former U.S. Department of Energy official on the basics of what makes a house green -- one that conserves energy and is close to public transportation, for example. After taking the course, they then can advertise themselves as "EcoBrokers" on their business cards and Web sites. Though that's a tiny 0.3% of all U.S. real-estate professionals, similar initiatives are popping up to raise awareness and take advantage of wider public acceptance of issues such as global warming and growing concern about higher energy costs."

posted by David

May 16, 2007

Pop According to Slate's Dan Gross:

Once you gain a little historical distance from bubbles, it is clear that some bubbles—some, not all—leave behind something that is a little bit boring but extremely useful: infrastructure.

I couldn't agree more. Cities that go through real estate bubbles have all that new infrastructure. Those that don't, well, they don't. I'll be checking out his new book on the subject.