After COVID-19, cities will change forever. Here’s a sampling of predictions I’m seeing:
People will avoid close physical encounters. Or maybe not. Maybe they’ll flock to crowded bars and restaurants after weeks of lockdown.
Stores, bludgeoned by pandemic closings and high rents, will fail. So will smaller, non-chain restaurants. Cities will become blander and more homogenized.
Or maybe this: For a while, small businesses will die and renters will flee. But that will reduce demand, so landlords will lower rents. Newly cheap spaces will lure innovators and entrepreneurs, artists, restaurants and shops to formerly homogenous, high-dollar areas. Their return will reinvigorate neighborhoods once dominated by national chains and luxury homes.
People will move to small towns, smaller cities or suburbs because they’re afraid – even more than before – of urban density and urban protests. Or, maybe, they’ll move after enduring years of extreme housing costs.
At the same time, more workers will telecommute – willingly or not – and office real estate will go begging. That, too, will change property values in cities, and hurt stores and restaurants catering to office workers.
As more workers telecommute, rush-hour congestion will melt away. Or maybe, rush-hour congestion will spike as people who once commuted on transit will opt to drive to work. And as more people move to suburbs, traffic there will get worse.