Lowell Deeds

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February 26, 2008

McMansions as the New Slums

by @ 11:15 am. Filed under Current Events

An interesting article in the March edition of The Atlantic Monthly magazine raises the specter of today’s McMansions (large residences with cookie-cutter designs and similar architectural styles located in new subdivisions) becoming the slums of the 2020s. The article’s author, Christopher Leinberger, contends that changing finances, cultural trends and demographics will usher in major changes in the way Americans live in the next few decades. He cites studies predicting that by 2025, 40% of all current homes built on lots larger than one-sixth of an acre will be vacant. Leinberger says that ever-rising energy costs will continue to make the cost of heating large, single family homes and commuting from them to work, shopping and recreation financially unattractive. At the same time, all of those baby-boomers who moved to the suburbs in search of more bedrooms and big yards for growing families, are now becoming empty nesters who no longer find excitement or satisfaction in mowing half-acre yards or shoveling industrial sized driveways. Culturally, television programs like Seinfeld and Friends have portrayed urban living in a more positive light, associating life in the city with “excitement, freedom and diverse daily life.” While the situation is certainly not as bleak as Leinberger portrays, he does make some fascinating observations about how we live our lives in America a the beginning of the Twenty-First Century.

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