This article in the excellent publication, High Country News, is titled “Ghost Subdivisions Haunt the New West“.
It describes how dead sprawl projects are dragging down the economies of Western communities. A short excerpt:
In Routt County, Colorado, where half the population lives in Steamboat Springs, a 1970s rural development called Stagecoach was originally platted into 2,000 lots. But only about 450 have been developed, and in 1978, Stagecoach went bankrupt.
Stagecoach residents then began leaning on the county to pick up the tab. For a quarter of a century, however, the voters of Routt County have repeatedly declined to foot the bill, on the grounds that there’s just no money to do it.
In Teton County, Idaho, which has a population of only about 10,000 people, there are an incredible 6,800 widely scattered vacant lots in 403 subdivisions. Even with the huge growth rates the county experienced between 2000 and 2008, this is a 72-year supply of residential building lots. Today, many lot owners in these zombie subdivisions fail to pay their property taxes.
Times are changing, leaving these wildly ambitious subdivisions behind.