U.S. Faces a New 'Space' Race:
America is Going to Need More Room
SHEILA MUTO / Wall Street Journal 13dec04
By 2030, the U.S. will need 44% more total built space than existed in 2000 to accommodate population and job-growth projections, according to a new study by the Brookings Institution.
The study, expected to be released today, estimates that only about half of the total 427 billion square feet that will be needed for residential and other uses by 2030 is currently standing. About 131 billion square feet of the total will need to be new construction, while 82 billion will be needed to replace the amount lost to disasters, demolition and other reasons.
Given that nearly half the space needed in 25 years h as yet to be built, "it's not too late to change the built environment and make things better, or even a lot better, than what they are now," said Arthur C. Nelson, the author of the report and director of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University's urban affairs and planning department. That means creating more-compact communities — where homes, work and recreation can be found closer together and don't require getting into the car as much.
Most of the new demand will occur in the South and the West, which together will require 251.5 billion square feet of space in 2030, up from 160.5 billion in 2000, the report by the institution's Metropolitan Policy Program says. About 136.3 billion feet of new and replacement space will be needed in the two regions.
The price tag for construction in the U.S. during the period is expected to total more than $20 trillion, assuming construction costs of about $100 a square foot, the report says. Adding infrastructure costs, the total investment in development will reach at least $25 trillion.
Much of the space needed will be housing. About 109 billion square feet of new and replacement residential space, or nearly 59 million units, will be needed by 2030, the report says. In 2000, about 176.7 billion feet of residential space, or nearly 116 million units, existed.