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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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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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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New Jersey isn't capitalizing on demand for walkable places

The following was crossposted from Smart Growth America’s coalition partner, New Jersey Future.

A 2008 survey found that 77 percent of Millennials – the generation of 20-somethings – want to live where they are “close to each other, to services, to places to meet, and to work, and they would rather walk than drive.”

New Jersey, with its extensive rail transit network and “streetcar suburbs” with pedestrian-friendly downtowns that surround many of their stations, is well poised to take advantage of the rise in demand for this walkable urbanism.

The New Divide: Walkable vs. Drivable
New Jersey is an anomaly among the 50 states in that it is highly urbanized yet lacks a major center city to claim as its own. The state’s home-grown urban centers all live in the shadows of their much larger neighbors, New York and Philadelphia. In fact, New Jersey is widely perceived as consisting mainly of suburbs serving these two cities, even if many of its small towns do not fit the low-density, single-use stereotype of a “suburb.” The distinction, however, between city and suburb as the defining paradigm for describing the built environment is giving way to a new dichotomy: walkable urbanism versus drivable sub-urbanism. New Jersey is well positioned to take advantage of this change.

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Birmingham, AL looks for ways to grow smarter

In 2000, the average resident of Birmingham, AL drove 34.8 miles each day, and only 2% of residents took transit or walked to work. Now, Birmingham is looking to change these trends and asked Smart Growth America for ideas about how to do it.

The Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham invited Smart Growth America President and CEO Geoff Anderson and LOCUS President Chris Leinberger to come to Birmingham last week to speak about smarter growth. In a joint presentation, Anderson and Leinberger discussed new trends in neighborhood design and what they could mean for Alabama.

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Walkable neighborhoods gaining popularity – even in the suburbs

Crossposted from the Huffington Post.

Last week, my colleague Chris Leinberger wrote a provocative op-ed in the New York Times titled “The Death of the Fringe Suburb.” Leinberger, who is president of LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, which is a project of Smart Growth America, highlighted the convergence of a number of factors in heralding the decline of far flung, auto-dependant exurbs. Rising gas prices, demographic changes, and shifting consumer preferences have all made these areas less attractive to homebuyers — a fact reflected in the financial troubles and foreclosure crises many of these communities face.

This gloomy portrait, however, is only the prelude to Leinberger’s discussion of an exciting new wave of demand for real estate. Today, the most valuable housing is in center city and inner suburb communities where shops, schools and homes are within walking distance of one another. More and more Americans want to live in these affordable and accessible neighborhoods — and the proof is in the prices of homes in these areas. Perhaps even more importantly, this type of development is where the knowledge economy thrives, helps support regional economies and promotes environmental sustainability.

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Smart growth news – October 26

The 19 Building Types That Caused the Recession
The Atlantic Cities, October 25, 2011
Among his favorite examples of all the standard real-estate products built ad nauseum across the country over the last half-century, Christopher Leinberger likes to point to the Grocery Anchored Neighborhood Center. This creation is generally about 12 to 15 acres in size on a plot of land that’s 80 percent covered in asphalt. It’s located on the going-home side of a major four-to-eight lane arterial road, where it catches people when they’re most likely to be thinking about what to buy for dinner.

The Federal Government’s Smart Growth-Inspired Landlord
Streetsblog, October 25, 2011
Robert Peck says he’ll gladly pay more to locate office buildings near transit – the time saved commuting makes it worthwhile.

WNY development panel airs plan
Buffalo News (N.Y.), October 25, 2011
Creating jobs and finding ways to get the biggest bang for the buck out of investments made in Western New York are emerging as top priorities in the strategic plan being developed by a state-backed economic development council. … It encourages “smart growth” that minimizes sprawl and leads to investment in the region’s cities and town centers.

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