Townhouses and single-family homes are sprouting on old industrial sites in the heart of Southern California cities. In Florida, developers are coveting foreclosed golf courses in urban centers to put up new subdivisions. Builders in Texas are going after available land even near landfills for residential and retail development.
Why are the giants of the building industry, the creators for decades of massive communities of cookie-cutter homes, cul-de-sacs and McMansions in far-flung suburbs, doing an about-face? Why are they suddenly building smaller neighborhoods in and close to cities on land more likely to be near a train station than a pig farm?
A housing industry slowly shaking off the worst economic conditions in decades is rethinking what type of housing to build and where to build it. It's a response to a new wave of home buyers who have no desire to live in traditional subdivisions far from urban amenities.
The nation's development patterns may be at a historic juncture as builders begin to reverse 60-year-old trends. They're shifting from giant communities on wide-open "greenfields" to compact "infill" housing in already-developed urban settings.
The market slowdown has given builders time to assess sweeping demographic changes that are transforming the way Americans want to live.
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