Unstoppable: Population Growth and Development

by Osman Parvez

You've probably noticed that I often write about issues other than the typical residential real estate rah, rah. One area I pay attention to is development. I posted a new feature a couple of days ago: The Boulder Development Map. It shows the location of many new developments in Boulder as well as expected locations for future FasTracks transit stations.

Why is development so important? Simple. Take a look at the following chart showing historic and forecasted future population in Colorado.

Colorado is a state with very positive immigration trends. From 1990 to 2000, we were the third fastest growing state. Every year, Colorado attracts thousands to leave their home state and settle down here. The chart above does not include illegal immigrants. State demographers predict nearly 5.2 million people will call Colorado home by 2010, an increase of more than 21% from the last census.

Given the increasing mobility of the U.S. population and the massive, unstoppable wave of baby boomers entering retirement, I suspect the results of the upcoming 2010 census will show even higher population than predicted. Our area attracts the mobile, talented, and (often) wealthy people because of the extremely high quality of life. The mobility of talent and capital is a significant and often overlooked factor.

With so many new people, development is a core issue. How will Colorado cope with so many new residents? Like it or not, more housing, jobs, schools, retail stores, infrastructure, and sadly more congestion are in our future. That's why if you plan to live here, it's smart to pay close attention to what's happening so that you can have a say. Development impacts quality of life, changes traffic patterns, and can be positive or negative for the community.

Here's an example of the potential positive impact of a development project. Recently, we had dinner at a friend's house. Afterward, we walked over to 29th Street for dessert. They live at Gold Run, an established condominium development located along the Boulder Creek path just below the CU campus. 29th Street, bus stops, and sidewalk infrastructure changes have substantially improved the ease with which you can get around near Gold Run. In the past, it was easy to stroll over to the Millenium Hotel or Safeway plaza. Now pedestrians can also easily get to 29th street where there's more shopping and other amenities. In a few years, Transit Village will be just on the other side of that too, making it a breeze to get to Denver or to the airport using public transit. For buyers looking for easy access to services, a stellar "along the creek" location, and proximity to the university, Gold Run just got a big boost from development.

I could tell you negative stories about development as well but you've heard them before, particularly in communities where growth is relatively uncontrolled. Sprawl and blight are often consequences. Luckily, population growth and development issues are taken seriously in Boulder and most other communities on the front range. While heavily debated and sometimes contentious issues, the end results are usually quite good, adding to the overall quality of life.

Please leave a comment if you have any new developments to add to the development map, specific examples of positive development in our region, or other related thoughts.

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The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

Please Note

This document contains forward-looking statements. You are strongly cautioned that investment results are subject to business, economic and other uncertainties. There are no guarantees associated with any forecast and the opinions stated here are subject to change at any time. Always consult your financial advisor before making an investment decision.