With many boomtime developments now just dusty wastelands, Sun Belt suburbs like those outside Phoenix are shifting gears. Some planners argue for a radical option called "smart decline" — letting empty lots go back to nature and even, in some cases, tearing down infrastructure.
In just a few months, the movement started a national conversation about inequality. With the end of many encampments, the movement is entering a new phase. Some say this dynamism will ensure success. Others think the movement will fail without political partners and compromise.
In Las Vegas, the housing market continued to struggle this year, but investors from Asia see opportunity there. They're taking advantage of housing prices that have plummeted in recent years, buying foreclosed homes for less than it would cost to build them.
Home prices have fallen 35 percent from their peak about six years ago and continue to drop. That makes lenders and potential homebuyers nervous, so sales aren't picking up much despite the lowest interest rates in decades. And the unsolved foreclosure mess continues to push prices down even more.
Sears Holdings announced Tuesday it will shutter at least 100 stores as a cost-cutting measure following a disappointing holiday season. The retailer's namesake Sears and Kmart stores have struggled against competitors such as Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot. Sears says it will save as much as $170 million through the store closings. It did not say how many employees will lose their jobs.
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