You are here: home   Heard Around the West   Empty nests
  • This article by Betsy Marston originally appeared in the Apr 28, 2011 issue of High Country News.
  • To read the full article, you must login or subscribe.
Please enter your email address to begin:

Follow Us
Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
Topic: Growth & Planning     Department: Heard Around the West     Comments: 0


Empty nests

News: Apr 28, 2011
by Betsy Marston


When the real estate market went bananas in the middle of the last decade, Teton County, Idaho, couldn't approve new subdivisions fast enough. In fact, the Idaho valley, which is located just over the pass from pricey Jackson, Wyo., was named one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States. But when the housing market plummeted in 2008, the boom's extravagance became painfully apparent, reports The number of vacant lots in Teton County -- 7,791 -- was almost equal to the county's population of 8,800. In a recent talk at a Denver land-use conference, Anna Trentadue, an attorney in Teton County for Valley Advocates for Responsible Development, recalled that the rush to develop land was so reckless that "thousands of lots were platted in the far nether regions of the valley with no real long-term vision for how the county would be able to provide basic services to these areas." Trentadue was initially surprised when the audience began to laugh during her presentation; then she realized that "they were just incredulous."


In Nevada, of course, developers didn't just plat far-flung suburban subdivisions and Las Vegas condos; they actually built them during the real estate bubble, and did so at a rapid clip. Last year, the number of empty homes in Nevada rose to 167,564, according to U.S. Census data. That's the equivalent of one out of every seven houses, which helps explain why, this past January, Nevada enjoyed the dubious distinction of having the highest foreclosure rate in the nation. On the up side, if you can call it that, bargains galore can be found throughout the Silver State because prices of many houses and apartments have dropped by more than half. "Save over $460,000" on a new house on the Strip is now a typical headline on the Top Ten Las Vegas Home Deals website. But the West's housing boom and bust can't compare to the spectacular scale of nonstop overbuilding in China. To keep its economy humming, China has built and continues to build entire cities, though few of its citizens can afford to live in the high-rise apartments or shop in the sprawling new malls, reports the television show Dateline Australia. The startling 99 percent vacancy rate for one mega-city built for 22 million people in the Pearl Delta is typical; what's even more appalling is the country's total number of empty apartments -- 64 million.

There is 1 more page in this article...

Introductory Offer - Save 20%

Print with digital OR digital only

From our friends

From a HUGE admirer

I just want to tell you that I'm a huge admirer of High Country News. The reporting, the stories you write — it's so important to those of us in California who see ourselves as part of the West and share all its issues. And they're always all so well-written. When people I know move to the West, I give them a gift subscription.

— Dr. Stephanie Pincetl, UCLA

Sweet-talk from a loyal reader:

"I have been a loyal reader ever since the famous/infamous roadkill issue, years back. I just wanted to note that I regard HCN as the finest magazine I have ever read in my life and it keeps being so."

Tim Kingston, California

Dinosaur fans

THANKS for splendid, challenging, exciting work, from two dinosaurs among your countless fans.

-- Brad and Zita Hosmer

Email Newsletter

The West in your Inbox

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
  1. The death of backpacking? | Younger people don’t seem interested in this out...
  2. A graceful gazelle becomes a pest | Inrroducing an African gazelle called the oryx for...
  3. The man behind a New Mexico county's fracking ban | Last year Mora became the first county in the nati...
  4. What's killing the Yukon's salmon? | An ecological mystery in Alaska has scientists and...
  5. Plains sense | Ten years after Frank and Deborah Popper first pro...
HCN Classifieds
Subscriber Alert
© 2014 High Country News, all rights reserved. | privacy policy | terms of use | powered by Plone