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Found another really interesting story in the New York Times today:

Vancouver, B.C., the city that has, more or less, managed to stop urban sprawl and salvage the aesthetic of a walkable urban center, is starting to feel the pendulum swing the other way. Now commercial space could hit the endangered list in the next few years.

Vancouver’s been really successful — the Times labels it a leader in North America’s urban housing renaissance. And San Diego’s been following that lead. With many of the same features in their downtowns — a waterfront and a signature park, for two — and with a desire to eliminate some gnarly traffic on suburban commutes, San Diego and Vancouver have each embraced residential development.

And Vancouver developers have come here in droves. For example, Bosa Development got its start building condo towers in Vancouver and its suburbs. Bosa’s San Diego developments include Park Place, Bayside at the Embarcadero, The Legend and Electra, comprising close to 1,000 condo units.

San Diego’s been at this type of development for fewer years than Vancouver has, and I haven’t heard concerns about commercial space reaching similar levels here. But the story shows what might happen as downtown San Diego keeps following Vancouver’s lead. Vancouver’s officials decided to put a moratorium on new housing near the business district two years ago.

Here’s the kicker — a quote from Don Vassos, that region’s marketing director for commercial real estate giant CB Richards Ellis:

The city’s housing moratorium, which affected areas that had previously been optional commercial or residential, was an important step, Mr. Vassos said. “It’s in everybody’s interest for the commercial sector of the real estate industry to be increasing with the population. We can’t afford to have thousands of people living downtown who jump in a car in the morning and head off to the suburbs for a job.”


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