Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sun Feb 22nd 2009 at 12:46pm UTC

America’s Emptiest Cities

Las Vegas takes top spot, followed by Detroit. Atlanta, Greensboro, and Dayton round out the top five. Phoenix comes in sixth. No surprises there. But, I was surprised frankly to see Chicago make the list. Here’s the full list, from, based on fourth-quarter rental and homeowner vacancy rates for the 75 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country. Curiously, there is considerable overlap with this Forbes list of the places where home sales are rising fastest.

8 Responses to “America’s Emptiest Cities”

  1. Swordsman Says:

    I bet Chicago has a lot of auto suppliers and in part has been hit by the collapse of the auto industry.

    That is certainly why Indianapolis made this list as well. Ohio and Detroit are in long-term decline.

    Atlanta, Phoenix, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Orlando, Bakersfield, Miami, Jacksonville are all overbuilt or victims of the housing bust, as the article mentions.

    Surprised that Los Angeles isn’t on the list. Maybe L.A. is more robust than I gave it credit for.

    I would have picked Sacremento and Fresno for obvious ones as well.

  2. Mike L. Says:

    Thank you for posting this report. There is a difference between “empty” and “vacant”. A European city-planner visiting Chicago ten years ago was amazed at the large number of empty building lots. The south side of Chicago emptied out of people as the huge public housing projects were demolished. It would be instructive if the “empty” numbers were recalculated to include empty lots. They really have the same status as the “overbuilding” elsewhere.

  3. Swordsman Says:

    Good call, Mike.

  4. carlos9900 Says:

    Yeah, for European standards the American cities, with the exception of a few, are somewhat empty. We had a sprawl after the WWII, but later and not as much as in the U.S.

  5. Buzzcut Says:

    Being in a south side Chicago ‘burb, this it TOTALLY a subprime mortgage/ minority borrower issue. There are majority African-American south side ‘burbs that have been totally decimated by the subprime crisis. Certain majority African-American Chicago neighborhoods have been decimated as well.

    There’s a ‘burb called Ford Heights, which is supermajority African-American, which is very poor, which had its first new subdivision in decades go up over the last couple of years. It is totally vacant. Every house has been forclosed on.

  6. hayden fisher Says:

    Ouch! My city, Richmond, Virginia made the list of rental vacancy rates. Which is interesting because our real estate market is solid, at least the urban core is. Our real estate values are relatively stable, they never over-heated and haven’t collapsed.

  7. Michael Wells Says:

    How do you get to the whole 75 list?

    I was talking to a young friend this evening and they’re looking to rent in Portland’s Western suburbs (towards Hillsboro) nearer new jobs. The best place they found is new condos that aren’t selling and the developer is renting them pretty cheap. She said they’re unlived in, $200,000 two bedroom apartments renting for less than $1000, cheap around here — or used to be.

  8. Jenniffer Hamano Says:

    “this is gonna be a hell of a bloody day!”