Can affordability share space with infill development?

Cities and suburbs looking for a post-Recession edge are planning redesigns of derelict shopping centers and ways to address the mono-culture of single-family homes. Both are liabilities if not handled properly. But examples of retrofits are surfacing daily, from University Circle’s Uptown to Dublin, Ohio’s effort to attract young workers by bolstering its traditional downtown with walkable urbanism.

A perennial concern around urban infill projects—particularly in already upscale markets like University Circle and Dublin—is affordability. Are mixed-use developments like Uptown—financed with public and private money, but which still function like traditional developments with targets for profitability—at odds with attracting a range of residents? Uptown’s rental units start at $1,325 and top out at $2,260 a month. The Plain Dealer picked up on this issue, noting: “It represents a stretch toward higher prices in a city that’s just starting to see modest rent growth spurred by strong demand.”

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