Neo-Traditional Community Review
Harbor Town:
Auto Dependent Downtown Living

  • Size: 160 acres (estimated), including adjacent green belt.

  • Planned development: 500 detached houses 400 apartments --- appears to be largely complete in February 2000..

  • Some commercial development has taken place, including a small (6,000 square foot) neighborhood grocery store.

  • With no public transport, this community is close to downtown, but not close enough for walking. In a central city with little public transport use (4.7 percent of work trips were by public transport in 1990), Harbor Town has a public transit market share of zero. Harbor Town is more automobile dependent than the average suburb.

  • Neo-Traditional Rating: 1.33 (substantially fails to achieve neo-traditional ideals) on a scale of 1 to 5.
Criteria Neo--Traditional Ideal Case Rating
Walkable Community Stores within walking distance (1/4 mile) of all residences. Estimated 50 percent of apartments and 20 percent of detached housing within walking distance 2
Transit Oriented Development Automobile competitive transit service providing service to entire urban area No transit service 1
Housing Prices Mix of housing prices, including low cost housing. Housing prices generally 70 percent to 300 percent higher than median home price in the Memphis area 1
Density 7 housing units per acre minimum (12,000 per square mile) Estimated 5.5 units per acre (9,600 per square mile, 80 percent of the 12,000 objective) 2
Impact on Suburbanization Infill -- does not contribute to suburbanization Greenfield --- contributing to suburbanization 1
Balance of jobs and residences Community provides a balance of jobs and residences, reducing the necessity to commute by automobile Few commercial jobs: generally low wage retail jobs that could not support the high costs of home ownership in this development. 1
Market oriented development No subsidies or tax breaks Unknown: property obtained at very low cost as a result of a banking failure (US banking crisis). ---
Composite Rating 1.33

Nothing in this review is meant to suggest that any neo-traditional development is not a desirable community. Most are well designed and attractive. To the extent that any such development fails to achieve neo-traditional (new urbanist) objectives is more than likely a reflection that the objectives themselves are impractical and largely unachievable in an environment that depends upon consumer choice in a free market.

Map. Top of Map is East

Apartment area.

Street scene.

View across to mainland Memphis

(c) 2000 --- Wendell Cox Consultancy --- Permission granted to use with attribution.
Demographia is "pro-choice" with respect to urban development.
People should have the freedom to live and work where and how they like.

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