Predicting the future of American cities

By Jeffrey Steele  | Forbes

Spencer Levy, New York City-based CBRE’s director of research for the Americas, is among the leading experts on the role of real estate in sculpting the future of American cities. Levy’s approach to spotting emerging trends takes in such disparate drivers as package deliveries, infrastructure, universities, the importance of local retailers and

CBRE’s Spencer Levy doesn’t much care for much of the conventional wisdom regarding U.S. cities.

the overhyping of today’s young adults. His views are by no means predictable and not infrequently take to task the conventional wisdom. All of which makes Levy among the most entertaining and enlightening observers of the American urban scene.

Among topics he’s currently exploring is the question of which city will be the next Seattle. Every city wants to emulate Seattle’s growth, he says, but only a few are viable aspirants.

Denver and Austin come close to modeling Seattle’s success factors, while other cities like San Antonio and Miami, he feels, “are not going to make it.” For the same reason, he’s betting on brighter futures for Indianapolis, Columbus and Milwaukee than many other Midwestern cities. The urban meccas that will go furthest in the years ahead, he argues, possess a combination of three attributes that matter most: talent generation through universities, a work-live play environment and capital from foreign sources.

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