Land

Next-Normal Mobility Rewards Relocation, Repurpose, Reuse

No. 10 among trends that will transform homebuilding by 2030: Adaptation -- in an era defined by a pandemic virus that shows no sign it will stop making all the rules -- will reignite migration and redefine 'location, location, location.'

Land

Next-Normal Mobility Rewards Relocation, Repurpose, Reuse

No. 10 among trends that will transform homebuilding by 2030: Adaptation -- in an era defined by a pandemic virus that shows no sign it will stop making all the rules -- will reignite migration and redefine 'location, location, location.'

December 24th, 2021
Next-Normal Mobility Rewards Relocation, Repurpose, Reuse
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Let's talk about the weather.

Whether they know it, choose it, bet on it, bet against it, believe it, or not, builders' role and essential value – ones they perform better and deliver more of than ever in the history of humankind – serves to protect people in their homes and communities from the weather.

Fact is, we can write the start, middle, and end of a piece that presupposes that by 2030 a growing share of residential investment, development, architecture, planning, and construction will focus on relocating people due to harsher and more hazardous weather without once mentioning a seven-letter word starting with "c." [Actually, we've quoted a couple of sources that use the term, but we've taken the liberty of masking the word to show we're trying to focus on the business of building rather than the politics].

And so we will. We'll confine focus in this conversation to talking about the weather, and in so doing, we'll discuss two sides of one coin: at-risk and its opposite, simply, opportunity.

Transformation Trend 10: Migration resets paths of growth

Assertion: A step-change increase in migratory relocations that pull people and capital investment toward attainable, comfortable, connected, safe, food-and-water secure, healthy, and culturally-rich places will by 2030 begin to reset opportunity and risk around greenfield, infill, and urban community development for the following 50 years.

Two expanding macro-trend forces – one, regulatory and the other, environmental – will create property valuation standards around newly evolving meaning of residential real estate's defining term of worth, location, location, location.

True, we don't today see more than fringe evidence of migratory movement like this today. As one of migration and mobility data's leading experts, Brookings Institution's William Frey notes the opposite:

Source: Brookings Institution
Despite the attention given to COVID-related migration out of cities, college towns, and other pandemic-impacted areas, overall permanent migration levels in the U.S. plummeted to a historically low level during the first year of the pandemic."

The assertion suggests that beginning in the next eight years – as local zoning burdens, housing cost spirals, hybrid livelihood options, natural resources channels, hazard conditions converge – migration will begin to look more the way it did in the 1950 to 1970 period than it has in the time since.

Motivating the move, one single-source-of-truth motivation – and, you'll notice it has no political meaning, but great business opportunity significance: Adaptation.

From an even longer view, as macro-migration shifted to warmer "Smile States-style" locations – empowered by building technology advances that cooled indoor space, and fueled by a rotation in capital from more northern geographies to the South – changed residential community development's landscape over the past three to five decades, an inflection is underway.

We'll see – in the aftermath of pandemic era impulses and flash-fad reactions – what currently tangles timeless values of safety, privacy, sanctuary, comfort, and secure access to vital resources together with property location and value will untangle and become clear.

Will sources of harm push people from where they live and give their properties value? Or will emerging sources of opportunity to flourish draw people to newly valued property locations? That's under debate that will take political, legal, financial, and cultural wrangling to new heights of complexity.

This perspective piece makes a case for a more rigorous treatment of managed retreat as a politically, legally, and economically distinct type of relocation that is separate from c------ migration. We argue that the use of both concepts interchangeably obfuscates the problems around climate-induced mobilities and contributes to the inconsistencies in policy, plans, and actions taken by governments and organizations tasked with addressing them. This call for a disentanglement is not solely an academic exercise aimed at conceptual clarity, but an effort targeted at incentivizing researchers, practitioners, journalists, and advocates working on both issues to better serve their constituencies through alliance formation, resource mobilization, and the establishment of institutional pathways to climate justice. We offer a critical understanding of the distinctions between climate migration and managed retreat grounded in six orienting propositions. They include differential: causal mechanisms, legal protections, rights regimes and funding structures, discursive effects, implications for land use, and exposure to risks."

Here, from an analysis we wrote this past July in The Builder's Daily, is a passage we feel gets at a bottom-line take-away that supports our assertion that mobility and migration are on the verge of a big-time return:

Here New York Times contributors Katharine J. Mach and A.R. Siders, two respected environmental scientists, draft a more accessible version of a paper they published in the Journal of Science in an essay entitled, "Is Your Town Threatened by Floods or Fires? Consider a ‘Managed Retreat.’"
"Coastal communities may find themselves forced to put themselves first in line to consider the strategies Mach and Siders map out, if only because not doing so may only add up to more pain, loss, and hardship.
"We are under no illusions about the challenges involved. Managed retreat can reduce threats from climate change, yet it poses risks of its own. It can disrupt the cultural heritage of established communities. It can perpetuate social and economic inequalities. And it can cause financial, professional and psychological disruption. But these issues also present an opportunity, a chance not to salvage and maintain the status quo at all costs but to deliberately build a better future.
"Managed retreat could help change how funding is allocated between wealthy versus low-income communities, for example, or between urban hubs versus remote coastlines. Numerous enduring injustices have led to the settlement of marginalized communities in areas of increasing flood and storm hazards and left them without adequate protections. Addressing such persistent inequities should be a goal of all efforts at c------ adaptation.
"Managed retreat should no longer be a last-ditch effort to flee c------ problems. It should be a thoughtfully deployed tool for addressing a wide range of human problems."
Importantly, the two scientists frame the essential challenge of managed community in light not of sugarcoating the negatives and difficulties the strategy implies, but also of recognizing new and fresh opportunity to right some wrongs in some of the practices, systems, and balances as they currently exist.

Adaptation blends two deep involuntary instincts that relate to one another, but are often at odds with one another. To survive and to thrive. Predicting adaptation patterns are really the bulwark of residential land investment, development, planning, design, and construction's rules about when and where to hold and where and when to fold.

Adaptation, in an era where a global pandemic has pronounced its intent to keep on making all the rules, will impact, even determine, winners and losers based on who holds and who folds on their land in the next 10 years.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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