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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New Data Affirms Westport Among Top U.S Affluent Places

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New U.S. Census data out today shows that Westport is the 10th most affluent U.S. neighborhood community, second to only Darien in the state, which is listed as No. 2, according to an analysis by Forbes magazine.

Forbes, in a snapshot of the affluent places, described Westport as a “bohemian bourgeois village with a 60-minute commute to Manhattan.”

Forbes said for communities such as Westport and Darien that depend on New York’s financial industry, town-center commerce and municipality taxes on pricey homes, the impact of the current economic downturn is likely to be more pronounced than for other wealthy neighborhoods.

To determine its list of America’s most affluent neighborhoods, Forbes looked at average median household income estimates—in communities with populations between 20,000 and 64,999—from 2005 to 2007, provided in the newly released U.S. Census American Community Survey (ACS).

With today’s release of the ACS data, the Census for the first time provided data estimates on communities of this size in a three-year rolling count from 2005 to 2007. ­

The data includes cities, towns, villages as well as census-designated places (CDP), a type of neighborhood that lacks a separate municipal government, but otherwise physically resembles one of these other places.

The new census figures produce the most detailed snapshot of neighborhoods and smaller cities and towns since the 2000 Census.

Forbes said Southlake, Texas, a Dallas suburb with an estimated median household income of $172,945, is the most affluent neighborhood in the country, mostly due to real estate growth.

The magazine said the Census figures showed Westport had a median household income of $147,391.

“Westport is thought to be a little bit less conservative than counterparts like Darien,” Forbes said. “This town has a council dedicated to the arts, which
holds events at regional theater mecca Westport Country Playhouse, (and) outdoor concert venue Levitt Pavilion.”

In its analysis of the Census data, The New York Times used median family income rather than median household income to measure the nation’s wealthiest towns.

“Darien and Westport, Conn., were among the wealthiest towns in the country with populations between 20,000 and 65,000, making a list of nine places where the median family income exceeded $150,000,” the Times said. “In Darien, it was $195,905; in Westport, $176,740.”

In its news release on the data, the Census Bureau also highlighted median family income as a measure.

“Nine midsized places have median family income exceeding $150,000,” it said. “Los Altos, Calif.; Darien, Conn.; Westport, Conn.; Lake Forest, Ill.; Bethesda, Md.; Potomac, Md.; Southlake, Texas; University Park, Texas; and McLean, Va.”

Among the other nuggets of data for Westport, top ancestry claims were Irish 17 percent and Italian 16.6 percent.

The Census Bureau said the new technique of combining three years of survey responses makes it possible to release a new set of multiyear estimates annually for smaller geographic areas.

“Today’s release represents an important milestone for data users everywhere,” said Census Bureau Director Steve H. Murdock.

“Communities are no longer limited to a once-a-decade look at their population’s characteristics. The ACS’s multiyear data will allow small towns and communities to track how they are changing on an ongoing basis.”

Posted 12/09 at 09:00 AM

Comments:     Comment Policy

One thing we should take from this article is the quote about the impact of the economic downturn.

“Forbes said for communities such as Westport and Darien that depend on New York’s financial industry, town-center commerce and municipality taxes on pricey homes, the impact of the current economic downturn is likely to be more pronounced than for other wealthy neighborhoods. “

Let’s not think we are immune and be prepared. I’m sure our Board of Finance is on the ball and ready to take whatever action is needed.

Posted by Matthew Mandell on December 09, 2008 at 07:08 PM | #

Given the new changes for where we can build affordable housing in this town (text changes took effect that no longer require an arterial road or commercial district to be nearby)  I would guess that we will see more low income families around helping to lower this staggering average.  Tomorrow night, 11-Dec, at town hall, the Westport Housing Authority is proposing additional text changes to existing regulations which will make high density, low income housing possible in almost any neighborhood.  See, we don’t need an economic down turn, just bring in a few hundred low income families (78 units proposed in Hales Ct, over 100 in Barons South).  No worries, things will change around here now.

Posted by Teri Beckoff on December 10, 2008 at 09:14 PM | #

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