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Did These Shopping Centers Help Bring on the Recession?

Those in the real estate development world may be familiar with Christopher Leinberger, the real estate developer, Brookings Institution fellow and University of Michigan professor widely considered one of the country's top thinkers on land use and urbanism. Back in 2005, Leinberger penned a rather prescient piece in the journal Places identifying the 19 building types that need to be replaced in the American real estate development lexicon with those that can achieve the magical combination of both getting financing and contributing to more sustainable, vibrant communities. (If Leinberger's piece is too much for you, The Atlantic Cities blog has a nice summary.) One prime example that will be particularly familiar to the Atlanta area is the grocery-anchored shopping center. On the one hand, these centers represent the pinnacle of convenience in a automobile-centric world. On the other, they are an environmental and land use disaster. Leinberger posits that the commoditization (and easy financing that followed) of the grocery-anchored shopping center and other product types that go with it (suburban tract housing, other big box retail) caused the over-building that leaves us mired in the real estate doldrums and current economic malaise. Look around Atlanta and it's difficult to argue his point.

· The Need for Alternatives to the Nineteen Standard Real Estate Product Types [Places via eScholarship]
· The 19 Building Types That Caused the Recession [The Atlantic Cities blog]