Are we building enough homes?

In a recent post on Greater Greater Washington, Dan Reed for Just Up the Pike shows that White Flint is second in Montgomery County for the number of residential units in the pipeline with 3,827 homes waiting  to be built.

If you add all of the county’s master plan or sector plan areas up, there were about 47,000 homes that have been approved to be built as of May 2018. This is what county officials call “the pipeline.” Of those 47,000 homes in the pipeline, 15,000 of those homes have building permits and are in some stage of construction. That leaves about 32,000 homes that are waiting to be built.  Nearly all of these homes are located in  urban areas with access to transit.

The pipeline may not be enough to meet current and future population growth. Montgomery County grew by 70,000 people since 2010, or about 25,000 households. But the county only added about 21,000 homes, leaving a deficit of 4,000.

On top of that, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), we expect about 208,000 new people to move here in the next 20 years, and we’ll need about 87,000 new homes for those people. So we need about 91,000 homes, and we’ve approved 48,000. That’s 43,000 houses that we need to build.

And the homes we’ve already approved to build may not be where we need them to be. It can take decades to build all the homes in the pipeline — there are homes that were approved in the 1980s and 1990s still waiting to be built — and, as a result, the pipeline doesn’t always match current trends.

Twenty years ago, most of the county’s growth and investment was happening on the suburban fringe, while closer-in urban areas were declining. Today, that trend has basically reversed, and it’s in those closer-in areas where home prices are rising the fastest due to demand.

You can read the rest of the article, including a more detailed analysis of what’s preventing homes from being built in certain areas of the county as well as the consequences of this housing shortage at

Big Box Stores Are Shrinking to Fit Smart Urban Neighborhoods

Dan Reed (Dan, by the way, used to write this blog you are now reading) in the August Washingtonian writes about how big box stores are shrinking their square footage to fit walkable communities like Bethesda and Rosslyn. He also discusses how the mix of retail is changing in urban and urban-lite communities, focusing on stores where shoppers hunt for bargains and interesting wares (i.e. Marshall’s and Nordstroms Rack) rather than more traditional department stores like Macys.

“As young, upwardly mobile Washingtonians flock to urban corridors such as 14th Street as well as town-center-style developments around Metro stations like Tysons, national chains—many of them traditionally wary of stores that didn’t come surrounded by ample parking—are trying to follow them. And they’re trying to do so via buildings that fit into their environments,” writes Dan in Why Washington’s Big Box Stores are Shrinking.

I (Executive Director Amy Ginsburg) have said for years that the transformation of the Pike District re-creates the Main Street life of the 1950s when most folks lived close enough to walk to their friendly neighborhood corner store and movie house. Dan confirms this theory when he writes “The future of retail in Washington looks a lot like shopping did 50 years ago, when city dwellers and close-in suburbanites headed to the open-air shopping streets that prospered before the rise of the mall.”