As a driver and City Manager of a City with a fleet of vehicles I have to say that I share in the frustration with rising gas prices. There’s no question that it has put a dent in both personal and professional budgets. We always budget based on an average year’s worth of fuel which means this year we will be over budget — although I noticed our police patrols on bicycles recently which is good for both their cardio and our fuel costs. Obviously we still expect our emergency personnel to be able to respond to emergency calls in a matter of minutes so the bikes have their limits but I like the effort. About the only thing I like about the gas prices is that it is making more people want to stay in town to shop, eat and live. National and regional news reports note the growing popularity of city living and it’s not necessarily big cities, it’s the smaller cities like Kent that have the greatest potential to score big in these tough times.
Obviously we want to take advantage of the renewed interest in staying local which is why we’re pushing forward with our downtown revitalization efforts. Don’t get me wrong, we’re trying to fill properties all over town (we’ve been particularly focused on University Plaza lately) but there’s no question that downtown offers the greatest bang for the buck so we’re making a serious run to fill in the gaps downtown to create the kind of destination that would keep all us locals from spending the extra $5 bucks in gas to drive to Hudson to eat or Chapel Hill to shop — consider it the Kent discount.
And don’t forget, of all the Portage County cities that are served by the PARTA bus system I think it’s fair to say we have the best transit available in the County. Of course with the University students and Kent’s environmental sensibilities transit was bound to be a success here, and it is. And for a buck a fare (just $1 dollar) you can’t beat the economics.
Throw in the bike lanes in town and on campus, plus the extension of the Portage Hike and Bike trail into downtown Kent (currently under construction) and biking is another very reasonable alternative in Kent.
We’ll keep working on the shops and restaurants, you just keep coming downtown.
Gas prices sparking interest in urban living
Coldwell Banker sales associates working in urban markets across the United States indicate they are seeing interest in urban living increasing because of the high cost of gasoline. While 96 percent of the 903 sales associates surveyed report that rising gas and oil prices are a concern to their clients, 78 percent report that higher fuel costs are increasing their desire to consider living in an urban setting.
According to the Coldwell Banker survey, the primary reasons for this interest in urban living are related to work commute and energy-efficient modes of transportation:
- 81 percent cite minimizing a reduced work commute as a reason for the interest in urban living;
- 54 percent agree that access to public transportation is appealing; and
- 75 percent agree that the ability to walk to more places is a positive.
“Over the past several years, we have seen a boom in downtown living all over the country, and this is not just reserved to major cities,” said Jim Gillespie, president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate. “It is interesting to note that the study showed that 53 percent of our surveyed sales associates have seen an increased interest in urban living compared to five years ago.”
Coldwell Banker surveyed sales associates who also reported they have seen an 84-percent spike in interest for properties with a home office, as compared with five years ago, indicating a trend toward telecommuting. While the study also found that 64 percent of surveyed sales associates report their clients increasingly look for homes with green amenities that could save on heating, cooling, and electricity costs, only 42 percent surveyed believe saving on energy costs is a reason for their client’s interest in urban living.