The weekend brought a great look by Robert David Sullivan in The Globe at Boston's population growth. Long story short (though you should read the whole column), Boston is ever so incrementally nearing its peak population of 801,444 in 1950. Sullivan concludes: "As long as the city isn't hit with an economic slump, a crime wave, or rising seas, the hopes of job-seekers and housing developers are likely to push Boston's population beyond what many of its present-day residents have ever seen."
Those hopes are well and good, and the trends described are undeniable: More people are moving not just to Boston, but to urban areas nationwide, particularly on the coasts; a lot of these folks are younger and looking for the urban-living experience (re: less of a reliance on cars, more nightlife, etc.); and cities like Boston are responding by building new housing and expanding (or simply maintaining) public transit and options like bike-shares.
But! In Boston's case, there are three reasons to think that this population growth will hit a sudden ceiling and either plateau or drop. No. 1, a lot of the new development—the vast majority, in fact—is on the smaller side: one- and two-bedroom apartments and condos, or micro-apartments; a lot of the new housing, simply put, is not geared toward households planning to grow (i.e., young families). No. 2, a lot of the newcomers to the most rejuvenated parts of Boston, like the South End and the exterior areas of Southie, are on the older side: empty-nesters or singletons looking for that urban-living experience (and why shouldn't they?—we're not looking to socially-engineer a Boston proper of 30-year-olds). No. 3, have you seen the housing prices and rents in this area? Even the micro-apartments have Manhattan-esque rents.
We haven't even gotten into the fact that Boston, despite the plethora of new projects, isn't building nearly enough housing. Suffice to say we might soon look back at this period of population growth and see it as nothing more than a post-peak peak.
· Boston's Population Boom Speeds Up [Globe]
· Boston Is for Lovers (Just Not Their Kids): a New Apt. Dynamic [Curbed Boston]
· Downtown Boston Is Just One Big Empty Nest [Curbed Boston]
· Over the Top! Offers Above Asking Abound in the Hub [Curbed Boston]
· Here's How Much Micro-Apartments in Southie Could Go For [Curbed Boston]
· Rental Heatmap Update: 53 Apartment Projects and Counting [Curbed Boston]