This article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal discusses the recent development (forgive the pun) of Germans "moving back into city centers, abandoning outside villages." In the opening sentence, this is attributed to aging populations and to people putting added value on sustainability and green living. This is a trend that is sprouting up in the states as well except here we call our "villages", "suburbs" and our "lifts", "elevators."
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out domestically. Since the advent of the car and the interstate highway system (thanks Dwight D!) building outward from the city core has been the norm. Recently, with higher gas prices and crippling traffic in many cities, this has become a lot less desirable. Furthermore, we have our own aging population. Their dream once upon a time was to have a white picket fence and a yard for their young children. These young children are now grown up...or at least off to college, so these baby boomers have less of a desire to live as far away from Downtown just so that they can have a backyard for their kids to play. Also, these "kids" are now in their 20's and 30's and they want to live in town, near bars, restaurants, and cultural activities.
As far as Houston commercial goes, places like Kingwood and Woodlands aren't going anywhere anytime soon as these "suburbs" are now fully developed cities for all intents and purposes. There are other areas for which that doesn't apply. Wealthier baby boomers can opt to move "in-town" and developers will gladly build them condos for them to live. What will happen to the suburbs as this happens? Furthermore, the suburbs in many markets are where foreclosure rates were highest. In some cases, entirely new subdivisions were built during the middle part of the last decade.
What do you think? How will the Houston commercial property landscape change?