NPR: Study says Americans prefer walkable neighborhoods

Visitors at the Chattanooga, TN farmers’ market. Chattanooga is one of the smaller cities seeing a rise in walkable urban neighborhoods. Photo by Flickr user Larry Miller.

Chrisopher Leinberger, President of LOCUS and coauthor of the new report “Walk this Way:The Economic Promise of Walkable Places in Metropolitan Washington, D.C.” sat down with NPR’s Marketplace‘s David Brancaccio and Stacey Vanek Smith earlier today to talk about the report’s findings and the rising popularity of walkable neighborhoods. Listen to the audio or read a full transcript after the jump.

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Walkable neighborhoods now the most coveted in real estate


Washington, DC’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood was one of those included in a new study from the Brookings Institution. Photo by Flickr user Dewita Soeharjono.

The most valuable real estate today is in walkable urban locations – and that’s a stark change from only a decade ago.

That is one of the principal findings of a new report from the Brookings Institution. Walk this Way:The Economic Promise of Walkable Places in Metropolitan Washington, D.C. is an economic analysis of the neighborhoods in and surrounding our nation’s capital.

“Emerging evidence points to a preference for mixed-use, compact, amenity-rich, transit-accessible neighborhoods or walkable places,” the report explains, noting that consumer preferences have shifted and that demand for walkable housing is outpacing supply, thus contributing to higher property values.

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Breathing new life into a symbol of Atlanta’s past


A rendering of the Atlanta BeltLine project. Photo courtesy of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. / Perkins + Will /  Field Operations. Used with permission.

Despite its reputation as a sprawling capital of the New South, Atlanta, GA is a city with a rich history and industrial legacy. Now, as part of the massive Atlanta BeltLine project, historic buildings that encapsulate the city’s past are being repurposed to meet the growing demand for walkable urbanism in the region. One such example of this type of revitalization is the Ponce City Market, which will restore the expansive Sears, Roebuck & Co. building in Atlanta.

The project is being developed by Jamestown Properties and Green Street Properties, and will bring new life to 1.1 million square feet of the old building which has been largely unused for over 20 years. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Sears, Roebuck & Co. building was built in 1926 to provide space for the company’s regional offices and a retail store. The building was expanded several times and even hosted farmer’s markets, but it closed in 1987. The city of Atlanta later purchased the building, but after renovations were delayed, sold it to a developer in 2006.

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Subdivisions go urban as housing market changes

Changing demographics and shifting consumer demands have deeply impacted the real estate market, causing developers to put a greater emphasis than ever before on the creation of smart growth neighborhoods within easy distance to jobs, shops and schools. From millenials to baby-boomers, Americans are moving away from large-lot suburban housing and looking to take up … Continued

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Smart growth news – May 16, 2012

Subdivisions go urban as housing market changes
USA Today – May 15, 2012
“It’s the kids (ages 18 to 32), the empty nesters (Baby Boomers with no kids at home),” says Chris Leinberger, president of Smart Growth America’s LOCUS (Latin for “place”), a national coalition of real estate developers and investors who support urban developments that encourage walking over driving. “These two generations combined are more than half of the American population.”

Housing’s Future: Renting and Downsizing
Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog – May 15, 2012
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like a rented apartment. That may be the mantra of U.S. households for the next three years, according to a new study released Tuesday by the Demand Institute division of the U.S. Conference Board. Most Americans still hope to own a home, the study found — but that home will be smaller than the MacMansions of the housing boom.

San Jose City Council OKs developer incentives to build downtown apartment high rises
San Jose Mercury News (CA) – May 15, 2012
To bring more workers to San Jose, the City Council in January enticed developers with fee and tax waivers to fill or build office space. Now, the council wants to lure more people to live downtown — even though it means giving residential developers millions in tax breaks and other fees to do so.

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Walkable communities in demand, will lead housing market recovery new report finds

The U.S. housing market has begun to recover, and homes with amenities within walking distance will be those most in demand in coming years, according to a new report from the Demand Institute, a division of the U.S. Conference Board.

The Shifting Nature of U.S. Housing Demand, released May 15, examines the state of the U.S. housing market and the new trends emerging as real estate prices begin to recover from the recession.

Notably, the report predicts that areas with homes within walking distance of amenities and public transportation will recover more quickly and more strongly than those without these features. The report authors refer to these communities as “Resilient Walkables”:

About 15 percent of the population lives in this segment, which comprises populous urban or semi-urban communities well served by local amenities. House prices here fell by less than the national average between 2006 and 2011, in some cases by much less. The same is true of local employment…These localities will be the first to recover. We expect house prices here to rise by an average of 3 percent in 2013, and by up to 5 percent a year between 2014 and 2017.

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Many commuters are trading a backyard for a train station

LOCUS President Chris Leinberger recently sat down with the Wall Street Journal to discuss the rising popularity of living near public transit.

Suburban Swap: Trading a Backyard for a Train Station [Wall Street Journal – May 1, 2012]

Tom and Pat Kelly spent 22 years living what many people consider the American dream: They owned a four-bedroom home with a pool and a big yard in Turnersville, N.J. They traded that in to live near a train station.

With two of their three children living on their own, the couple no longer wanted to spend time raking leaves, shoveling snow and doing other maintenance their large home required. So they moved to LumberYard, a mixed-use condominium development near their son’s and daughter’s homes and within walking distance of the local train station.

Now, instead of spending two or more hours commuting daily in his red Volkswagen Beetle, Mr. Kelly, 56, hops on the Patco high-speed train line and gets to his Philadelphia law-firm job across the Delaware River in about a half-hour. “It’s just a much more enjoyable life,” he says.

LumberYard is a transit-oriented development, or TOD, one of a growing number of mixed-use developments that combine town houses or condominiums with retail shops, hotels and other businesses—all perched near a train station.

Transit oriented development—a term some credit to urban planner Peter Calthorpe—started to take off in the mid-1990s. But, the financial crisis slowed TOD projects along with other residential developments, says Christopher Leinberger, a Washington, D.C. urban land-use strategist and partner in developer Arcadia Land Co. Now, developers say they are dusting off old plans and starting new ones.

Read more: Suburban Swap: Trading a Backyard for a Train Station [Wall Street Journal – May 1, 2012]

LOCUS

Upcoming summit to celebrate and inspire placemaking in Northern Michigan

Great places where people want to visit, live, work and play are vital to any region’s economic success. The work of creating these great places is called “placemaking,” and in Michigan, many communities are already using placemaking strategies to attract jobs, entrepreneurs and economic development.

The Northern Maine Michigan Placemaking Summit in Traverse City and Petoskey on May 21, 2012 will focus on placemaking as a tool to build community pride and prosperity. Chris Leinberger, President of LOCUS, will deliver the keynote address at the event. This year’s Summit is sponsored by the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments in partnership with the Michigan Land Use Institute and the Michigan Municipal League.

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LOCUS President Chris Leinberger delivers keynote address at New Jersey Redevelopment Forum


A NJ Transit light rail train passes along Essex Street in Bayonne, NJ. Photo by Flickr user Flodigrip’s world.

In March, LOCUS President Chris Leinberger delivered the keynote address at the New Jersey Redevelopment Forum, an event hosted by Smart Growth America’s coalition partner New Jersey Future. The following is crossposted from New Jersey Future’s blog Future Facts.

Many in the luncheon crowd at New Jersey Future’s seventh-annual Redevelopment Forum were still digesting their cold cuts and salads when keynote speaker Leinberger stepped to the microphone and delivered an opening shot to their state’s midsection:

“New Jersey is the poster child for sprawl.”

A renowned urbanist, president of LOCUS; Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, Leinberger did not mince words when he described how New Jersey, like the rest of America, latched onto a drivable suburban lifestyle in the 1950s—and didn’t let go for the next half-century.

“Transportation drives development,” he noted. Modifying a well-known quote from Winston Churchill (“First we shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us”), he said, “We first build our transportation system, and then it molds our metro regions.” Investment in highways leads to drivable suburban development, he explained, while investment in rail, bus, bike lanes and sidewalks leads to walkable urban development.

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