Somerville Union Square Briefing Book

This briefing book has been put together to summarize the extensive research, planning, and visioning work that has taken place over several years during the process of planning for Union Square’s redevelopment.

City of Somerville, MA and LOCUS release results and next steps of program to balance economic growth and social equity in Union Square


Today, the City of Somerville, MA, and LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors publicly released the results of the progress made to date, as well as the next steps, in the Union Square Strategic Planning and Community Benefits process, a public-private partnership between LOCUS and the City.

The recommendations report identifies a series of priorities for ensuring that social equity goals are interwoven with development goals as the city’s Union Square neighborhood undergoes redevelopment centered around the planned MBTA Green Line light rail extension. Shared priorities including displacement prevention, affordable and attainable housing, jobs and workforce development, sustainability, open space, small businesses supports and more, are identified.

LOCUS announces new Attainable Housing and Social Equity Initiative Pilot Program


Across the country, market demand for homes in walkable, downtown neighborhoods is driving up housing costs. How can communities capitalize on this demand and create great neighborhoods that are attainable and equitable for people of all income levels?

LOCUS’ new Attainable Housing and Social Equity Initiative (AHSEI) Pilot Program is a private sector, place-based approach designed to address this challenge, in partnership with the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at the George Washington University (GWU) and funded by the Barr Foundation. As part of the Pilot Program, LOCUS will be selecting a number of U.S. cities to participate in strategies aimed at ensuring accessibility and social equity in great walkable urban places. The first of these cities is Somerville, MA, where our work kicked off at a public meeting in July.

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.

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


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. 

Real estate developers connect with local leaders and new opportunities at LOCUS LinkUp in Boston

warwick-ibcWarwick, RI’s Intermodal Business Center was one of the new projects discussed at last month’s LOCUS LinkUp. Photo via City Center Warwick.

On November 20, 2014, real estate developers and local leaders came together at a LOCUS LinkUp to discuss new opportunities for building walkable neighborhoods in the greater Boston area.

LOCUS President Christopher Leinberger framed the day’s discussion with a preview of forthcoming research part of The WalkUp Wake Up Call: Boston, which will take an in-depth look at where future development will likely occur in the region. Boston is already home to some of the country’s most walkable places—LinkUp attendees got a sneak peak of how that trend will bear out in coming years.

LOCUS Member Benefits: LinkUps

At LOCUS LinkUps, smart growth deals between local leaders and real estate developers and investors get done.

When great new walkable real estate gets built, both communities and developers reap the benefits. But strong relationships are key: Smart growth-minded local leaders must connect with developers and investors—in the right place, at the right time—to get the ball rolling.

That’s where our LOCUS LinkUps come in.

In 2013, LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors launched the LinkUp program to bring smart growth-minded local leaders and real estate professionals together. Through these private networking events, key players get the opportunity to discuss new smart growth deal opportunities and objectives for creating walkable, sustainable development. Every LinkUp features networking opportunities with top real estate CEOs and executives, information about available sites from local officials, and expert guidance on supporting the development of walkable places through policy change.

New walkable places research awaits developers at New England LinkUp

Looking forward to the real estate and local leaders networking opportunities at the upcoming LOCUS LinkUP in Boston, MA on November 20? Now, there’s even more to be excited about.

Representatives from LOCUS and the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at The George Washington University (GWU) will provide an update to attendees on their ongoing research of Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs) across the metropolitan Boston area. This presentation will give developers unique insight into where New England’s next walkable places will be built.

The new Boston research to be presented builds on the growing body of work on Walkable Urban Places that LOCUS and The George Washington University have pioneered. Earlier this year, the two partnered to release Foot Traffic Ahead, a report by LOCUS President Christopher Leinberger ranking metropolitan areas by current and future walkable urbanism. In that report, the Boston metropolitan area ranked third.