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Oliver Hartleben

The subprime mortgage crisis that plunged the world into the Great Recession of 2008 has had a devastating effect on the US housing market, leading many to question if the market will return to pre-crisis levels, or whether a paradigm shift has occurred that will pave the way to a 'new normal'.

According to trends, many of which began before the financial crisis, the public is increasingly demanding more walkable, community-oriented, and diverse residential areas.  However, any distaste for car-dependent development does not directly translate into demand for high-density, mixed-use, and downtown-type living environments. Moreover, most of the supply-side constraints still favor suburban, car-dependent development.

This presentation argued that the US housing market will increasingly focus on the infill, retrofit, and redevelopment of inner suburbs and neighborhoods, where the new demand for walkability and urban amenities can be better combined with the latent demand for single family homes, while at the same time being less likely to encounter opposition by local officials, homebuilders, and current neighbors.   This new form of development, which we call 'Pedestrian-oriented development', or POD, will constitute the largest opportunity to shift the pendulum back towards higher densities and more responsible urban forms and to prepare urban areas for high-capacity transit service in the future.


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About the Speaker(s)

Speaker: Oliver Hartleben is a Guatemalan architect and city planner who is currently pursuing a public administration degree at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Before coming to Boston, he worked for seventeen years with the City of Guatemala, lastly as Director of Urban Planning, where he oversaw the complete revision of the zoning and subdivision ordinances and the planning of the city's first bus rapid transit line. In addition to his work as a public servant, he has consulted the private sector in different Central American countries on urban and transportation design issues, and taught urbanism and traffic engineering courses at public and private universities in Guatemala. During the Summer of 2011, he worked at IBI Group on a research project on the post-recession future of the housing market in the US..