Plenty of Room for Growth in ‘Built-Out’ Communities

Changes in Policy, Demographics Spark Redevelopment

A new report [pdf] from New Jersey Future, analyzing the geographic distribution of residential building permits issued over the past two decades, reveals some remarkable results that indicate redevelopment becoming more and more popular in New Jersey.

The state’s major cities saw an elevated level of building permit activity in the last decade. In the 1990s, the eight State Plan “urban centers” accounted for only 3.9 percent of total building permits issued statewide, but in the 2000s, their share of the state total tripled, to 11.8 percent. These eight cities epitomize the concept of “build-out,” having long ago built on any piece of land that could be built upon. Yet they are growing once again.

The “built-out” building-permit boom was not confined to big cities, however. A total of 204 New Jersey cities and towns make the list of municipalities that were already at least 90 percent built-out at the beginning of the decade, including Ridgewood, Millburn, Summit, Chatham Borough, Princeton Borough, Haddonfield and Stone Harbor. (For a complete list of these municipalities, as well as the number of building permits each municipality issued in the 1990s and 2000s, please click here [pdf].)  Building permit activity in the 2000s was greater than that in the 1990s in 161 of these 204 municipalities, or 79 percent.