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Sun, May 26

What is the future of growth in Prescott?

Centerpointe West has numerous new businesses under various stages of construction. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)
Photo by Les Stukenberg.

Centerpointe West has numerous new businesses under various stages of construction. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)

The world is becoming increasingly urbanized.

Globally, 54 percent of people reside in urban areas, according to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs with the United Nations.

This compares to 30 percent in 1950. By 2050, it is expected that 66 percent will live in cities by 2050.

Though not what one would necessarily consider a traditional city, Prescott is not to be excluded from this equation.

Studies have already indicated that Prescott is a popular location not only to visit, but also to move to.

Local real estate companies have corroborated this with figures showing promising housing numbers and a trend toward an increasingly healthy seller’s market as the economy gradually recovers from the recession.

Therefore, the demand is present, and with it comes decisions on how to manage the growth.

As discussed and shown in a recent study by BuildZoom, https://www.buildzoom.com/blog/cities-expansion-slowing), there appears to be a distinct divide among U.S. cities as to how they have concentrated their resources since the 1970s.

On one end of the spectrum are cities like Atlanta and Phoenix, which have accelerated their outward expansion, channeling economic strength into greater population growth.

On the other end are cities like San Francisco and New York that have substantially reduced the pace of outward expansion and have instead channeled their economic strength into higher property values.

The Prescott metropolitan area, which includes most of Yavapai County, falls somewhere in the middle. Though its expansion has decreased 66.1 percent since 1970, it still increased by 5.32 square miles in the 2000’s alone.

This compares to the Flagstaff metropolitan area’s 4.9 and the Phoenix metropolitan area’s 297 square mile increase. It’s worth noting that Phoenix is the fourth fastest expanding metropolitan area in the country.

Looking at Prescott proper specifically, the city has been growing at a moderate rate, said city officials.

“[Population growth] averages a little less than 2 or 3 percent a year, which is a little less than the statewide average,” said Tom Guice, Director of Community Development for the city.

The city has been managing the growth with some infill, a recent push for the development of additional multi-family residences, and the occasional annexation of land to expand the city’s outer limits, said City Planning Manager George Worley.

This multi-faceted strategy seems to be working to some degree. Prescott is certainly not growing too quickly and the conservative approach it is maintaining doesn’t appear to be affecting the cost of living, as shown by figures taken from the Prescott Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly cost of living survey.

Just published in today’s paper, Sunday, June 5, on the Chamber Focus page, this year’s first quarter figures show that the cost of living in Prescott remains below the national average by 2.6 percent.

In the first quarter of 2010, that figure was 4.1 percent above the national average, indicating the cost of living has in fact gone down quite a bit in the last few years.

This was mainly driven by shifts in housing prices.

In 2010, housing prices were much higher in Prescott than they are today when compared to the national average.

“It doesn’t mean that the housing costs here are lower than they were in 2010, it just means that the rest of the country’s housing costs are jumping higher and our numbers don’t look so bad anymore,” said Dave Maurer, chamber CEO.

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