Saturday, March 25, 2006

Bobos in Boulder

by Osman Parvez


Here's an interesting post from a condo buyer in the Holiday Neighborhood, a New Urbanist development in North Boulder that has been progressing along nicely.

He writes,
"What I find interesting about the project is how it depends on a market demand for socially responsible policies. This isn't corporate social responsibility for its own sake. Nor is it top-down social engineering. The project is working because consumers want the product. (To be sure, some of the features may have been included to please local regulators. As you might imagine, it's not easy to build in Boulder.)
Like the Prius, or Whole Foods, or Eco-Tourism, the new urbanism design creates a premium product. It's the housing equivalent of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Conspicuous consumption you can feel good about. But I'm not kidding myself -- notwithstanding the affordable housing set-asides, this project is more white-collar than blue. The project succeeds only to the extent it satisfies upper-middle-class preferences. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) The retail establishments include a coffee and dessert shop, a high-end pizza place, a health club, a bicycle shop, and, soon, a high-end restaurant and wine shop. It's ground zero for Bobos in Paradise."

Incidentally the buyer, law professor Victor Fleischer, wrote another piece pondering why his new condo seems underpriced.

Years ago the location featured a twin screen drive-in theater.

p.s. Vic, I think bobo branding of real estate is a very real phenomenon. Nearly every builder has attempted to brand their developments, some with substantial success. From my real estate experience on Nantucket, I saw clients pay a premium for Lyman Perry branded luxury homes. On a much larger scale, Pulte Homes' Del Webb brand of "active senior" developments and McStain Neighborhoods also immediately pop to mind.

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