Downtown revitalization? Report finds 'job sprawl' still prevails

Charlotte ObserverApril 6, 2009 

In its study of "job sprawl" in 98 of the largest U.S. metro areas, the Washington-based Brookings Institution found that Charlotte and most cities have seen a shift in the location of private-sector jobs from downtown to outlying neighborhoods and suburbs.

Charlotte was listed among 30 areas of "moderate decentralization," while more than half of the cities, 53, experienced "rapid decentralization." Three metro areas posted "gains in the core," and only one was a large area: Milwaukee, Wis.

Virginia Beach, Va., was the most centralized region with more than 36 percent of jobs within 3 miles of downtown, followed by New York City and Salt Lake City. The most decentralized area was Detroit — with more than 77 percent of jobs more than 10 miles away from downtown — followed by Chicago and Dallas.

Among all 98 metro areas, jobs within 3 miles dipped from about 23 percent to 21 percent from 1998 to 2006, while jobs more than 10 miles away rose from 42.5 percent to 45 percent.

"While many once declining central-city downtowns have captured visible new residential and commercial vitality in recent years," the report concluded, "the dominant trend across metropolitan areas and industries has produced further spreading out of jobs toward the metropolitan fringe."


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