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Working Papers

New Urbanism and Sprawl

Working paper #677
Andrejs Skaburskis

This article looks at the net effect of adopting New Urbanist principles on urban density and thereby on the spread of the city. It considers the case of Cornell, a large New Urbanist development in suburban Toronto. The study tries to determine the extent to which Cornell changed the demand for higher density housing, through survey research that explores the housing decisions of the project’s occupants. A survey examined the complex decision process that people engage in before moving to their homes. The views of the households’ decision sequences developed through the analysis of the survey data sheds light on three more general questions: Did residents willingly trade away lot size for the valued neighborhood attributes that can be attained only through higher density development? Did households reduce the amount of land they occupied relative to the amount they would have occupied had it not been for the New Urbanist option? How replicable is the Cornell plan? To what extent can New Urbanism replace the conventional suburb?

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