Tuesday, January 15, 2013

No "good" or "bad" densities

Back-to-the-city stories make the news. There are also reports of continuing suburbanization. But the best stories are about the choices that the great cities offer. 

Today's WSJ includes “Urban Planning: Some firms are choosing Manhattan over Connecticut  … For fledgling hedge funds, Manhattan's skyline is shining a bit brighter these days.  When Chris Hentemann left Bank of America Corp in the summer of 2008 with an eye toward starting his own fund, he hung his shingle in Stamford, Conn. By the time the fund launched that fall, he had moved his firm to Midtown Manhattan. The relocation quadrupled Mr. Hentemann's morning commute from Connecticut, but made it easier on visiting pension-fund managers and other investors who flock to New York to shop for hedge funds. ‘There were enough roadblocks to establishing a new fund that I didn't want to create another’ by being outside Manhattan, Mr. Hentemann says. ‘I can capture that investor that may not have made that trip up to Greenwich, but they had an opening in their schedule an hour before they had to go to JFK to go back to Europe.’"

There are many studies of urban densities that assert "too high" or "too low".  But no one knows which fledgling firms of which new industry will cherish which settings at which prices in future years.  In that case, allow for environments where options can become available. Most locators in settings where goods exchange and/or intellectual exchange with useful counterparts are available at reasonable cost.  Flexibility and openness are best.  Call it "really smart growth."