Why Your Skyrocketing Rent Is Bad for the Economy

6/05/2013

Michael Lind is in the midst of a three-part series over at Salon on the rise of rentier capitalism in America, with some pretty unambiguous headlines (yesterday: “Private sector parasites”; today: “How rich ‘moochers’ hurt America”). His premise is that the true “takers” in America are not the impoverished families on food stamps or the retired workers using medicare. They are, among other people, the landlords who’ve been sitting comfortably on the other end of the astronomical uptick in rent prices we’ve been wringing our hands over here, here, here and here.

Last spring, The New York Times reported that rents in Manhattan had reached an all-time high. By September, our own Richard Florida noted that it had become cheaper to own a home than to rent one in every one of the country’s 100 largest metros. Earlier this year, it appeared as if the average rent for an apartment in San Francisco had finally leveled off… at $2,741 a month.

We’ve thought a lot about what all of these numbers mean for families and young professionals who would like to move into (or stay within) increasingly unaffordable major metros. But Lind’s writing puts a whole different perspective on the problem: What about all of the landlords who are now depositing this windfall, and without lifting a finger or remodeling a bathroom to get it?

Continue reading this article by Emily Badger on The Atlantic Cities.

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Why the cities of the future belong to the millennial generation

3/05/2013

Big-city dwellers, get used to this scenario: One thousand people, mostly in their 20s, crowded in a gritty parking lot behind Honest Ed’s in downtown Toronto. They were gathered to support an anti-poverty, anti-hunger fundraiser organized by the west-end community advocate The Stop and to taste culinary delights steeped in foodie irony – BBQ pig tail served from a round, pig-shaped cart and snow cones served from a mound of slowly melting dry ice. The food trucks were not your hygienic factory-made variety endorsed by the City of Toronto. They were created by Toronto’s sophisticated millennials, an urban class that values cultural fusion and originality. Naturally, the Brothers Dressler had designed a sweet hybrid: a recycled wood cart supported on a bicycle-wheel chassis with offerings of “son-in-law” eggs laced with chili jam.

It’s no wonder The Stop’s Night Market, which sold out fast last summer, is doubling to two nights this summer. It’s exactly what the millennial generation in Big City Canada craves.

Expanded sidewalks, not expanded art galleries, are what appeal to millennials and what civic leaders should be obsessing over. Art needs to come out of the neat confines of the institution and bleed into the streets so that it can be experienced like a chance operation. They’re well-educated and well-travelled, so public space that hints at the low-lit night markets of Bangkok will resonate with this crowd. Want to communicate the Impressionists? Project images of Monet’s Water Lilies on the sides of garbage dumpsters.

Continue reading this article by Lisa Rochon at the Globe and Mail.

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Renting the American Dream

2/05/2013

Home ownership is a well-entrenched component of the American dream. But, that may well be changing, according to a major survey released earlier this month from the MacArthur Foundation.

For a majority of Americans today, renting is a viable path to achieving their version of the American dream, the study finds.

The report [PDF], entitled How Housing Matters: Americans’ Attitudes Transformed By The Housing Crisis & Changing Lifestyles, was carried out for the foundation by Hart Research Associates. It is based on telephone interviews with 1,433 adults conducted between February 27 and March 10 of this year as well as focus groups conducted in various cities.

Overall, a majority of Americans, including seven in 10 renters, say they aspire to own their own home someday. But more than half (57 percent) believe that “buying has become less appealing,” while 54 percent believe that “renting has become more appealing.” Almost half of current home owners (45 percent) can see themselves renting at some point in the future. And, the rate increases alongside income and education, with 48 percent of college-educated home owners, 53 percent of home owners with a post-graduate education, and 51 percent of home owners with household incomes greater than $75,000 saying they would consider renting.

Continue reading this article by Richard Florida on The Atlantic Cities.

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Modular Urban Rooftop Farm Uses Only Recycled Materials

30/04/2013

On top of the roof of the Chocolate Factory in Dublin, a remarkable rooftop farm is being planted. Following the example of other great urban rooftop farms around the world, the Chocolate Factory farm is completely modular, made from only recycled materials, and is based on the concept of composting. This way, the small scale farm that looks out over the city of Dublin integrates an entire food system, from waste to food, on one roof.

The Chocolate Factory is located in the old Williams & Woods building, in the Northern Centre part of Dublin. Historically, the famous Toblerone chocolate bars were produced here. After production of the pyramid shaped chocolate moved elsewhere, the building deteriorated and decayed. After years of neglect, the Williams & Woods building — the first concrete building in the city — is being rejuvenated to become a creative hub comprised of spaces for design, art, music, dance, photography and many other creative fields for, spawning the growth of a strong Chocolate Factory community. Along with these workspaces, The Chocolate Factory will house a hostel, a cafe and restaurant, an art gallery and a venue space for events and hire.

Continue reading this article by Joop de Boer on Pop Up City’s blog.

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Billboard Turned Into An Artist Residency

29/04/2013

Over the past years, infinite numbers of artists have tweaked billboards to discuss the appropriateness of advertising in public space. At the same time brands have done much to spice up billboards in order to make their message extra attractive. Mexican paper company Scribe created a combination of both — it recently launched Scribe Billboard, a temporary residency for artists inside a billboard.

Architect Julio Gomez Trevilla has designed the temporary house, that is hidden behind a billboard in Mexico City. The tiny artist residency accommodates a kitchen, bathroom and desk space and can only be accessed via a hidden door in the billboard itself. First one to occupy the Scribe Billboard was artist Cecilia Beaven. During her ten-days stay she painted a mural that represents the numerous things you can do with a blank piece of paper. Her work is based on 50 requests that were sent in by followers of Scribe on Twitter.

Continue reading this article by Joop de Boer on Pop up City.

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