Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Greensboro/High Point among the 'emptiest' metros in America, says

A report by ranked Greensboro/High Point as the fourth-emptiest city based on vacancy rates collected from the U.S. Census Bureau for the fourth quarter of 2008.

Only Las Vegas, Detroit and Atlanta ranked "higher" than Greensboro/High Point, says the New & Record. The N.C. metro area edged Dayton, Ohio.

Forbes blamed the declines in Detroit and Dayton on industrial shutdowns, and placed Las Vegas' problems on the housing bust.

The report did not elaborate on how Greensboro/High Point landed fourth on the list.

But Keith Debbage, a UNCG geography professor who studies the city's economic health, says that those cities' circumstances are exactly what separates them from Greensboro.

"Yes, our region is suffering, as is the nation, but I would suggest we are no Detroit or Dayton nor have we had the speculative real estate bubble of Las Vegas or Orlando," Debbage said by e-mail Monday.

"I suspect if we examined the data over a longer period (instead of just one quarter), the rankings would shift dramatically particularly for Greensboro." ...

The Census information listed those rates for the country's 75 largest metropolitan areas. Atlanta, Detroit and Las Vegas are all in the top 30 largest metropolitan areas with at least 1.8 million people in each. The Greensboro-High Point area is 72nd in total population with slightly less than 700,000 people.

For comparison, Greensboro was second in homeowner vacancies with 5.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. Raleigh ranked 13th highest; Charlotte ranked 28th. As far as rentals go, the Gate City was 13th at 15 percent vacancy. Charlotte was 15th and Raleigh was 33rd. Richmond, Va., was highest in rental vacancies at 23 percent in the fourth quarter. Orlando, Fla., with 7.3 percent vacancies among homeowners, was highest in that category.

Thoughts on this information? Personally, I've heard so much positive "buzz" about Greensboro over the past five years that I can't imagine that it won't survive the economic crisis -- just as most people expect Raleigh and Charlotte to. And secondly, do these factors of vacancies really mean anything? Is a city's success or survival really being measured?

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