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The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream Paperback – July 6, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1597261371 ISBN-10: 1597261378 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; 2 edition (July 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597261378
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597261371
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Could it possibly be that Washington, for years bashed by politicians, its population shrinking and, at one point, almost bankrupt, has become a model of how the entire nation might smartly develop in the twenty-first century? I never thought I'd see the day. But Christopher Leinberger, one of America's top real estate analysts and now a Brookings Institution fellow, makes a startling case for it in his just-published book, The Option of Urbanism." - CHARLOTTE OBSERVER"

About the Author

Christopher B. Leinberger is a developer, professor, consultant, and author whose work has focused on making progressive development profitable. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution and is director of the Graduate Real Estate Program at the University of Michigan. He is a founding partner of Arcadia Land Company, a progressive real estate development firm, and has written award-winning articles for publications such as The Atlantic Monthly and The Wall Street Journal.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Great Resource for school, it was very helpful.
C. Hunt Jr
It's a pretty short book but well written and researched, and certainly more even-handed than Kunstler or Kotkin.
Jason Stokes
You will never look at the landscape around you again in quite the same way.
Anthony Albence

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jane Talkington on December 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
People outside the planning profession would find this book helpful in understanding new directions that are possible. Developers who are looking for a competitive advantage tool would do well to avail themselves to Leinberger's perspective on urbanism. It is an easy read, not technical, requires no specific background other than a healthy curiosity and drive to do better. City commissioners would also benefit from purusing these pages.

The author is a major mover and shaker in Albuquerque and a key proponent of their downtown revival. Leinberger writes from first-hand experience. I recommend reading books like this because it is a chance to get inside the head of a visionary. A person could easily read one book like this each week; how else could you immerse yourself in 52 change agents per year?? When a consultant of Leinberger's stature shares 5 hours of his insights for less than $20 it is a pretty good value.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By K. West phal on April 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Written from a perspective that most urban critiques fail to provide, this book grounds the reader in the real estate, demographic and policy realities that have shaped the American built environment into what we see today. Leinberger knows this stuff cold, both as a developer and through his more recent positions in Brookings and academia. He writes in an approachable style and provides the most thorough discussion to date of the entrenched system of subsidies and practices fueling types of residential and commercial construction that is increasingly at odds with the "true" market. Late in the book, I think he makes a rare--but very appropriate--connection between the implication of the continuation of these policies and our future energy needs. For those of us who like a good, constructive reality check now and again in the midst of all the usual suburban finger-wagging, it's a must-read book this year.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jason Stokes VINE VOICE on December 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've drank the urbanist Kool-Aid, for sure. However, I was very pleased that this book presents both sides of the argument between walkable urbanism and driveable suburbanism. The author, who is a real estate developer and expert, goes through the benefits and drawbacks of each with some fairness, though he seems to prefer the urbanism argument.

I particularly liked his framing of the situation in terms of demographics, social policy, and long term effects, and how he posits that perhaps we've gone too far down the suburban path and need to swing back toward walkable urbanism. His arguments describe how Wall Street, large developers, and government policy lead us toward suburban development, and why urban areas are so expensive (longer term building timelines, more expensive land, and most of all, lack of supply.)

I highly recommend this for anyone unfamiliar with walkable urbanism, or who might be interested in why our built environment is the way it is. It's a pretty short book but well written and researched, and certainly more even-handed than Kunstler or Kotkin.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MKM on June 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Christopher B. Leinberger's book put a name to a desire I have had in my search to find a new home. I wanted a place where my family had the option of walking to most of the day to day places we tend to visit - school, post office, drug store, grocery store, barber, dry cleaning, coffee shop, bookstore, etc. It turns out the name for this is "walkable urbanism" - it's a return to an older time (pre-car) neighborhood, in terms of property value it has a premium compared to drivable suburbanism and there is a small movement making it more popular.

This book from a real estate professional offers a logical and positive view of "walkable urbanism" without bashing drivable suburbanism that has dominated the landscape for the past fifty years. It provides a historical context to how we got to where we are and why the next phase will be a return to "walkable urbanism". The benefits to mitigating climate change and eliminating dependence on foreign oil are obvious. However the additional benefits of personal health and feeling a part of a community are also just as appealing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Book Reader on June 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book. I lived the phases of walkable neighborhoods to driving-suburban. Now we have return to sustainable, walking neighborhoods especially with the gas cost.

As I grew up, I felt supply and demand dictated growth. This book explained government and economic factors that influence development.

good read
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Charles P. Hobbs on July 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In _The Option of Urbanism_, Christopher Leinberger documents the history of both urban ("walkable urbanism") and suburban ("drivable sub-urbanism") settings. Before WW II, most people lived in cities and towns where most of their needs (shopping, etc.) could be met via a short walk, or perhaps, with public transportation.

After the war, the big swing was to the suburbs, due to several factors. Government and financial-institution policies tended to favor the suburbs, freeways, single-family housing and shopping malls....and discouraged any meaningful pro-urban development--at least until very recently. Nowadays there is a considerable demand for more dense housing, with destinations within walking distance.

Although Leinberger is very much in favor of urbanism, he does talk about some problems with it (affordability/gentrification is a big issue with some of the newer urban developments). Neither does he call for the suburbs to cease to exist, although he warns that some suburban developments may be hurt by the shift to the cities, rising gas prices, etc. (This book was written right before the current mortgage and gas price crises, and we're starting to see their effects on certain suburban areas as I write this)
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