I've always been a skeptic of the saying "build it and they will come" from the movie, "Field of Dreams." But it seems I may need to rethink things in light of new research from Wharton real estate professor Albert Saiz and Gerald A. Carlino of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
They found that "American cities with consumer leisure opportunities that appealed to visitors were also able to attract additional new residents over the course of the 1990s, the decade they examined. On average, cities offering more leisure advantages -- like an attractive waterfront or museums -- gained an additional 2% in population over less attractive counterparts during this 10-year period; some "beautiful cities" like Boston and New York that didn't have the ability to add housing to meet increased demand instead saw a sharp increase in housing prices and rents."
Sounds like Richard Florida, author of the book, "The Rise of the Creative Class" just got some additional validation.
One caveat, though. The last time a civic improvement trend occurred was from the 1890's to the 1920's. The trend ended when it ran into the Great Depression. Will the trend of new ballparks and river walks end with the current recession? Maybe I won't have to rethink things after all.
In the end, cities with strong positive brands are the ones that will be best positioned for growth.