Real estate developers gather in Washington for first LOCUS Leadership Summit

Members of LOCUS, Smart Growth America’s coalition of real estate developers and investors, gathered in Washington last week for the 2012 LOCUS Leadership Summit. The three-day event provided a unique opportunity to network, share best practices and rally around the common cause of advocating for Congress to pass a transportation reauthorization that supports the creation of walkable, transit-oriented communities.

The summit commenced with a keynote address from Janice Eberly, Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the US Department of Treasury, who spoke on the state of the U.S. economy and the nation’s real estate and housing markets. Members then explored the shift in market demand for walkable, urban developments through a panel with Patrick Phillips, President of the Urban Land Institute; Aaron Klein, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the US Department of Treasury; and Emerick Corsi of Forest City Enterprises.

In the afternoon, LOCUS members went on a walking tour of metro DC’s booming, mixed-use neighborhoods to see how the shift in market demand for walkable, urban developments is playing out in the nation’s capital. Members visited the Clarendon neighborhood in DC, where they heard from an executive at BF Saul about the firm’s Clarendon Center project, and Capitol Riverfront, where they heard from the director of that neighborhood’s business improvement district about the neighborhood’s incredible transformation in recent years.

On Day Two of the summit, LOCUS members embarked upon what many considered the highlight of the trip to Washington: Hill visits with members of Congress and Obama Administration officials. LOCUS members strongly encouraged these national leaders to pass legislation that would make it easier to build the kinds of transit-oriented, walkable projects in high demand across the country.

Specifically during their meetings with members of Congress and the Administration, LOCUS members encouraged senators to support transportation bill changes proposed by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Mark Warner (D-VA), which would create a credit enhancement for transit-oriented development (TOD) projects. This amendment is one of many being considered as both houses of Congress work to find common ground on a final version of the bill.


Senators Warner and Bennet honored for their work promoting walkable communities at LOCUS Leadership Summit

LOCUS, Smart Growth America’s coalition of real estate developers and investors, met in Washington DC this week to push for improvements in the federal transportation bill that will help create more walkable communities across the country.

During the three-day event, LOCUS also recognized two Senators who have championed legislation that would support great neighborhoods and strong local economies across the country.

“It is with great pleasure that we honor Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Mark Warner with the first annual LOCUS Leadership Award,” said LOCUS President Chris Leinberger at a ceremony Wednesday evening. “They have been integral in strengthening our efforts to build transit-oriented and walkable development projects across the country.”


LOCUS Developers gather in Washington DC to push for transportation bill improvements

The Navy Yard Metro station in Washington, DC is a recent example of development near transit stations. Photo by Flickr user M.V. Jantzen.

The hotly debated federal transportation bill could better support development near transit stations – if the House and Senate adopt a key amendment in their negotiations.

Members of Smart Growth America’s LOCUS, a coalition of real estate developers and investors, are gathering in Washington this week to call on Congress to pass a transportation bill that makes it easier to build transit-oriented and walkable development projects across the country. LOCUS developers will deliver that message as part of the 2012 LOCUS Leadership Summit, a three-day event that includes educational forums, walking tours of smart growth in the DC region, the inaugural LOCUS leadership awards and presentations by Obama Administration officials.


Economic growth through transit-oriented development in Kansas City

As Kansas City prepares for a special election on a proposed downtown streetcar line, KCPT and the Mid-America Regional Council‘s Imagine KC series examines the impact of transit-oriented development on Kansas City’s metro. KCPT’s Randy Mason and LOCUS President Chris Leinberger toured some of Kansas City’s streetscape along the proposed line, and discussed the commerce and development streetcar proponents predict will follow.


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.


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.


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.


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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