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December 20, 2010

New Jersey congestion and sprawl are a continued source of concern to those who worry about the quality of life in the Garden State. That’s why a recent report from New Jersey Future offers a measure of welcome news.

The study by the nonprofit planning organization took a look at the number of building permits issued in the state between 1990 and 2009. It found that redevelopment, as opposed to new development, rose from 15 percent in the 1990s to 33.6 percent in the 2000s for the state’s 204 municipalities already considered more than 90 percent "built-out."

The spike in urban redevelopment coincided with a major revision to the statewide building code in 1998, which stated that renovation or partial reconstruction of an old building would not necessarily entail conformance to the standards of new construction. The report found two other interesting facts: First, construction activity in built-out municipalities was not as adversely affected as the rest of the state by the recent recession. Second, the issuance of permits for multifamily housing became more geographically widespread in the 2000s, as opposed to the 1990s.

Tim Evans, the report’s author, concluded from these statistics that there is "substantial latent demand" for redevelopment in New Jersey’s urban communities and that the state should "think creatively" about how to channel it. "If the future of development in New Jersey is redevelopment, then our future depends on making it easier," according to the report.

To track how your community might be faring in redevelopment, take a look at the full list of municipalities considered the most built-out in the state and the number of building permits issued.

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