Cool Links of the Day: Housing and Carbon Footprints

First up is a link to a story on the growing housing crisis across Ohio, with a focus on the Columbus area.

The article uses an interesting metric to quantify just how bad the housing shortage is in counties across the state- the number of jobs versus the number of available housing units. In Columbus, there is only about 0.7 units per 1 job, leading to a Central Ohio shortage of more than 200,000 units!

Second, here is a link that gives the average annual carbon footprint of all US zip codes. In general, it seems that the most urban zip codes have the lowest footprints, along with far rural areas. The highest footprints seem to be in suburban and exurban areas. In the Columbus area, the zip code with the highest carbon footprint is 43021, which contains much of Westerville. Second highest is 43054, which contains New Albany. Take a look at the interactive maps here:

Residential Construction Trends of Columbus in One Graph

We’ve been hearing a lot the last few years about how residential construction has largely turned toward the rental variety, and no more so than in the urban areas. I have tried to document the level of activity in the city in my development page, but it doesn’t quite show what’s going on in the city overall. I did a little research and found some surprising realities that fully support the rental boom.

Here is a graph of annual housing construction permits from 2004-2013 broken down by multi-family and single-family types.

The chart above is based on the # of units, not the number of overall projects.

So what do the numbers say? Well, it raises some interesting questions. First, was the amount of single-family home construction on the decline before 2004 given the downward trend from that year through 2005? And was multi-family construction on the rise during the same period? Did the recession merely interrupt a trend that began more than a decade ago and resurfaced strongly in recent years? It’s hard to say for sure as I don’t have information before 2004, but regardless, it is clear that multi-family construction is the preferred residential preference right now by builders. Single-family home construction, however, has remained steady and well below its previous peak of the last decade.

This continued low level of single-family construction has likely contributed to the fact that area sales in that market have been down for several months now due to a lack of inventory. Prices, however, have risen.

Columbus Area Residential Development Booming

During and just after the recession’s housing crash, single-family home construction in the Columbus area seemed to fall apart, much like it did across the nation. Foreclosure rates soared, prices fell and builders were suddenly left with too many homes they couldn’t get rid of.

Out of the ashes of this market rose a surge in rental demand. It suddenly made more and more sense to rent rather than to own, especially for young professionals and empty nesters who wanted to downsize during tough economic times. Not only did what housing people wanted change, but so did where they wanted it to be located.

Columbus experienced a relative boom in rental housing during the late 1990s into the first few years of the 2000s, but almost all of that rental housing was constructed along and outside of I-270, where the suburbs were exploding with growth. Inside of 270 saw little of this, and the urban core neighborhoods around Downtown were almost completely ignored altogether. Single-family housing became popular again during the early 2000s mild recession, and the housing boom that would help lead to the Great Recession of 2007-2009 really began at that time. However, it was in 2002 that the City and Mayor Coleman came up with a 10-year plan to help bring more residents to Downtown. It began offering tax incentives to developers who would build there, in some cases 100% abatements, in a goal to have 10,000 residential units built in and around Downtown by 2012.

I’ve done a ton of research on the results of this move by the city, and it did have an impact. From what I’ve been able to find (so far), Downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods saw the addition of less than 200 residential units between 2000 and 2002. 2003 saw over 500 alone with the new incentives package in place. Between 2003 and 2006, the area added over 2,000 new residential units, most of them condos. As the Great Recession hit in 2007, the rate of new projects slowed to half of what it was, though still higher than it was prior to 2003.

As the Great Recession eased and more financing became available, construction began to pick up once more. With the new trends in favor of urban living and rentals, the rental market has exploded.

Completed Project #2- 2000- Miranova

On November 16, 1995, Developer Ron Pizzuti announced plans for a residential and office complex on the Scioto River shore on the southwestern edge of Downtown. In 1995, this area was a large vacant lot and a handful of small buildings. Originally, the $150 million plan called for replacing this whole area with two 25-story condominium towers, 14 luxury townhomes on the river, a 5-story office building and a pair of restaurants, all with construction to begin in 1996. 200 residential units were planned for the towers. This was all supposed to be part of a new series of Downtown developments including a new COSI, a new soccer stadium across the river on the Scioto Peninsula and a residential development on the Whittier Peninsula west of the Brewery District.

On May 12th, 1996, it was reported that the project would not actually break ground until sometime in 1997, already another year later than originally planned. The two towers remained on the agenda, as did the townhomes and restaurants, but the office building had gained a floor and would now be 6 stories.

By July 8th, 1996, the project had gotten larger still. The # of townhomes had more than doubled to 30 and the office building had risen to 7 stories.

On December 16, 1996, the office building once again grew, this time to 8 stories.

By February 4, 1997, the number of towers had fallen to just one, and mention of townhomes had disappeared, yet the price tag remained $150 million.

Further changes came on December 12, 1997. The single tower would be 28 stories and the office tower had grown to 16 stories. Groundbreaking was pushed back to sometime in 1998.

February 11, 1998, still a single 28 story condo tower, but now two 16-story office towers.

May 8, 1998, and back to just one office tower. Still no groundbreaking.

September 19, 1998, more changes. Condo tower down to 26 stories and the office building down to 15. But work has begun on pouring foundations.

Rendering of Miranova in 1998.

Miranova condo tower was completed in the early spring of 2000. By July, 79 of the 112 condos had sold. The office building, down to a final height of 12 stories, would not be finished until 2001. The last condo sale would not happen for several years, as the 2000s saw the market crash for these residences.

Miranova Project Stats
Began Construction in 1999
Completed in 2001
Cost: $150 Million
Height: 26 Stories
# of Residential Units: 112