Join the 2016 LOCUS Leadership Summit for walking tours around Boston

The 2016 LOCUS Leadership Summit will bring together smart growth real estate developers and investors from across the country in just less three weeks in Boston. The event will feature three walking tours around the Boston metropolitan area showcasing neighborhoods transformed by investments in infrastructure—and you’re invited to join us.

One Greenway
One Greenway restored the urban fabric and vibrancy of Chinatown’s Hudson Street neighborhood in downtown Boston after it was destroyed in the 1950’s. The mixed-use, sustainable housing development includes 363 units within walking distance of public transportation, neighborhood retail, and community space. Janelle Chan, Executive Director of the Asian Community Development Corporation, will lead this walking tour on June 14th at 2:00 PM.
Assembly Row 
With over 500,000 square feet of retail space, 2,100 residential units, and 1.75M square feet of office, Assembly Row is an urban mixed-use development designed to compliment the legacy of Boston. Don Briggs, Executive Vice President of Development at Federal Realty Investment Trust, will lead this tour on June 15th at 4:00 PM.
Union Square
In 2012, the redevelopment of Union Square, Somerville’s oldest commercial district, began with the Union Square Revitalization Plan. The first phase of the 20-year plan will produce new Green line transit stations at Union Square and Washington Street. Greg Karczewski, President of Union Square Station Associates, will lead this tour immediately following the Assembly Row tour.

Introducing "Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown"

In 2010, global biotechnology company Biogen moved its offices from downtown Cambridge, MA, to a large suburban campus in Weston, 25 minutes away. In 2014, less than four years later, the company moved back.

“There is so much going on in Cambridge,” said Chris Barr, Biogen’s Associate Director of Community Relations. “It is such a vibrant place to live and work—it’s been a great move back for us.”

Biogen is one of hundreds of companies across the United States that have moved to and invested in walkable downtowns over the past five years. Our newest research takes a closer look at this emerging trend.

Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown is a new report released today by Smart Growth America in partnership with Cushman & Wakefield and the George Washington University School of Business’ Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis. The new report examines nearly 500 companies that moved to or expanded in walkable downtowns between 2010 and 2015, and includes interviews with more than 40 senior-level staff at those companies.

The results provide an overview of why these companies chose a walkable downtown and what they looked for when considering a new location. The report also includes ideas for cities about how they can create the kinds of places these companies seek.

Inside "The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Boston"

walkup-boston-coverMetropolitan Boston is poised to be one of the most walkable metro areas in the country. This is one of the exciting findings of The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Boston, a new report unveiled in Boston today at LOCUS’s first-ever New England Leadership Summit.

The new research defines—for the first time—the form and function of all land use in metropolitan Boston’s 3,100 square miles, identifying 57 regionally significant walkable urban places (or “WalkUPs”) in metro Boston and ranking them based on economic performance, measured by the real estate valuations for each product type and the fiscal revenues generated for local governments, and by social equity performance, measured by accessibility, opportunity, and affordability for residents. Looking ahead to future opportunities, the report also identifies emerging and potential WalkUPs where new development could go.

As shown by substantial and increasing real estate valuation premiums in all real estate product types (office, hotel, rental apartment, retail, and for-sale residential), the report found strong and growing signs of pent-up demand for walkable urban neighborhoods in the Boston area—marking a reversal in real estate development that has long followed the drivable suburban model. Even more remarkable is the fact that these WalkUPs, account for just 6% of the total land area in the Boston metro region.

Coming soon: "The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Boston"

cambridge-700px

Walkable real estate development projects and places are on the rise nationwide. Over the past year, LOCUS has looked at how these trends are playing out in Atlanta and Washington, DC.

On March 11, we’ll reveal new analysis of which walkable urban places—or “walkUPs”—are changing the real estate landscape in another major American city: Boston

The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Boston will, for the first time ever, analyze the different forms and economic use of all land use across metro Boston and rank Boston-area communities based on economic and social equity metrics. 

Incoming Massachusetts cabinet secretaries top speaker lineup at 2015 New England LOCUS Leadership Summit

The 2015 New England LOCUS Leadership Summit: Closing the Next [Smart Growth] Deal on March 11, 2015 in Boston, MA, will bring together real estate industry leaders and public officials from across the region to advocate, network, makes deals, and connect with one another. To frame the event’s discussions, we are excited to announce these confirmed speakers … Continued

Spotlight on Sustainability: Boston and Littleton, Massachusetts

The following is a guest post from Mark Racicot, Land Use Division Manager for Boston’s Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)

Last year, a coalition led by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council of Boston was awarded a $4 million grant through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program (part of the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities). The MetroFuture Regional Plan, a groundbreaking initiative, is designed to strengthen the economy, create jobs, increase transportation options, and improve quality of life for area residents.

Residents of the Town of Littleton, Mass., have already seen the major impact this funding can have on a community. A few weeks ago, Littleton residents voted to amend the uses allowed on active farms in residential districts and protect the future of their farming economy. As one component of the larger MetroFuture plan, Littleton used Sustainable Communities funding to protect agricultural land and will use additional funds to look at wastewater treatment programs and development in the village.

Keith Bergman, Littleton Town Administrator, said, “Littleton is committed to economic development consistent with community character. We’re host to IBM’s largest software development lab in North America, but we’re also a rural community with a rich agricultural tradition, active farms, and even a town-owned orchard. We want to help our farmers keep their land in agricultural uses by expanding ancillary uses, so we’re big on green, as well as Big Blue.”

"An increasing movement toward more walkable cities"

CNBC released its list today of the top 10 most walkable cities in America, and includes in it a discussion of the growing trend among towns and cities to create neighborhoods with pedestrian-friendly streets and bustling downtown shopping districts. These features are a key part of smart growth development strategies and, as CNBC writer Cindy Perman explains, walkable neighborhoods have benefits beyond street-level charm. Walkable neighborhoods feel safer and more social, and help build exercise into daily routines. But even more importantly, walkable neighborhoods bring economic benefits:

You wouldn’t spend much time hanging around in the parking lot of a strip mall in a car-dependent suburb. But, you would linger in a very walkable city, which means you’re more inclined to spend more. Quite a bit more, in fact. The Urban Land Institute studied two Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, one walkable and one not. They found that the Barnes & Noble book store in the walkable suburb made 20 percent more in profits than the one in the driving-dependent suburb.

“We call that a place-making dividend,” McMahon said. “People stay longer and come back more often and spend more money in places that attract their affection.”

There’s an economic benefit for homeowners, too: Homes in walkable cities hold their value better than those that were heavily reliant on driving, according to Smart Growth America, a group that promotes “smart growth” instead of suburban sprawl.

Metro Boston wins $4 million for Sustainable Regional Planning

Metro Area Planning Council.

The following is a guest post from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, a member of the Smart Growth America coalition. Congratulations to the Council for Metro Boston’s recent award of a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant!

Smart Growth in greater Boston, Mass. scored a major victory recently with the region’s receipt of a $4 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This grant will support the implementation of MetroFuture, the region’s blueprint plan for sustainable and equitable long-term growth. MetroFuture was developed with the participation of over 5,000 “plan-builders,” including individuals, academic institutions, business organizations, community based organizations, and others.