Local Living Economies Propel Business Forward and Enrich Communities, Growth Stems from Rich Histor
The development patterns of housing, retail, commercial, industrial, warehousing, medical, and education have propelled Land Dimensions from 1979 into the present. Along the way, there have been stops and starts in real estate as a result of our industry being directly connected to the economic wellbeing of our country.
All real estate is local, and as a new company, we started out on a groundswell of economic prosperity in the South Jersey region. We were intricately involved with the expansion of greenfield development of farmland that became major subdivisions and the ancillary development that grew as a result of the increased population living in suburbia.
Post World War II through to the early 2000’s saw the expansion of communities that were car oriented and car dependent. This development trend traces its roots as far back as the General Motors Exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
Futurama, a diorama designed by Norman Bel Geddes and sponsored by General Motors, was the most popular exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair. During the 1930s a few urban highways had been built, but this exhibit was spectacular in comparison. It depicted the United States in the year 1960 with multilane superhighways crossing the country.
What the Futurama ride was really selling was a highway system — a taxpayer-funded highway system. “I think the best take on it was in E. L. Doctorow’s novel World’s Fair,” says Howland. “A family exits the ride, and the father says, ‘General Motors is telling us what they expect from us: We must build them the highways so they can sell us the cars.'” Chris Baker
In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, consumers were given a reason to buy cars.
In the US, Levittowns were the beginnings of suburban growth. After World War II, with the sudden increase of men coming home after the war, there was a serious housing shortage. The GI bill of 1944 provided money to educate and build houses for the returning soldiers. A man named William Levitt bought thousands of acres of land outside of cities like New York and Philadelphia. Levitt then proceeded to plan out the construction of towns full of prefabricated houses.
One of the first Levittown communities was started in Hempstead Town, Long Island, New York, and was developed between 1946 and 1951 by the firm of Levitt and Sons, Inc. It was an early example of a completely preplanned and mass-produced housing complex. Containing thousands of low-cost homes with accompanying shopping centers, playgrounds, swimming pools, community halls, and schools, its name became a national symbol for suburbia during the post-World War II building boom.
As automobiles became more widespread, there was political and economic pressure to expand the road network. In 1958 the Interstate Highway Act connected all the major cities in the US with highways. A demand for housing, particularly single-family homes was met in the United States with government loans and other incentives to expand housing in suburban areas. Life in the suburbs became feasible with the automobile, which provided mobility everywhere, anytime. Thus, after World War II, at least in the United States, the automobile, the auto industry, the urban road network, and the suburbs grew together. The result was a dispersed urban geography, often called sprawl, which characterized not only the suburbs of large cities but also whole cities that experienced the bulk of their growth after the automobile became popular. Colorado.edu – A Brief History of the Growth of Suburbs
While expansion into the suburbs in Southern New Jersey was moving forward during the early years of the 21st Century, another movement was picking up speed; i.e., redevelopment. The 21st Century is the ReCentury – recycle, recover, repurpose, recreate, restyle, redefine, rebuild, redevelop. This new development pattern is a moving forward to the past.
In a global economy of high tech where the world is not moving fast enough, there is a growing emotional attachment by young and old alike: a desire to go back to a slower pace that includes connectivity. This connectivity that was lost through suburban sprawl can be recaptured through the revitalization of older neighborhoods and their downtowns throughout the South Jersey region.
As well documented through numerous accounts, suburban sprawl led to the decline of small downtowns as a result of the growth of suburban malls, strip centers and big box stores. While a lot of towns have declined, many are dying and some are almost extinct.
Compounding the plight of business owners who want to hang on to an ideal of being a merchant in a downtown community, is the expansion of online purchasing. Not only is Amazon a threat to the small independent business owner, but the big box stores are also growing their online presence because of the value in convenience shopping.
Land Dimensions is comprised of individuals who see the value of redevelopment as a two prong initiative. We believe in the revitalization of pre World War II neighborhoods, as well as downtown revitalization. We support, whenever possible, local businesses in an effort to play a small part in building community wealth from the inside out, and we are of the opinion that residents within a community should be cultivated as business owners within their own communities.
We believe in fostering the entrepreneurial spirit of community residents to encourage and facilitate business ownership that leads to a local living economy.
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Check out this video that explains this exciting and booming era in American history: