U.S. transportation policy focuses first and foremost on ensuring that drivers can travel with as little delay as possible. But this laser focus on speed sidelines other more important considerations like the preservation of human life and the health impacts of vehicle pollution. Prioritizing safety in our transportation policy—at the federal, state, and local levels—would be a major step towards a more equitable transportation system.
Walkable urban places (i.e. WalkUPs) occupy less than one percent of the total land mass in the 30 largest metro areas, but deliver outsized economic performance and there is great demand for more of such places. Meeting this pent-up demand for new WalkUPs would create a new economic foundation for the U.S. economy, one far more resilient than one predicated on suburban growth.
In Foot Traffic Ahead 2019, we rank the top 30 metros based on their WalkUPs.
Smart Growth America/LOCUS today released Foot Traffic Ahead 2019, a report which ranks the 30 largest metros in the United States based on the percentage of office, retail and rental multi-family space each has in their walkable urban places. The report powerfully illustrates the price premiums investors and buyers are willing to pay to live or work in walkable, transit-connected neighborhoods—and why we urgently need to build more of them.
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.
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.
Can real estate developers prevent displacement and gentrification? Are there ways to pay for critical infrastructure without burdening taxpayers? How can the public and private sectors better work together to create equitable, walkable development?
We’re currently putting together the agenda for the 2015 LOCUS National Leadership Summit, and we want to hear from you about the topics you are most interested in.
Join us for a live Twitter chat on Thursday, April 16 from 1–2 PM EDT to discuss what should be on the agenda of the 2015 LOCUS Leadership Summit. Tweet your questions at @LOCUSdevelopers, or join the conversation at hashtag #LOCUSsummit.
Downtown Ann Arbor in Washtenaw County, MI. Photo by the Michigan Municipal League, via Flickr.
Washtenaw County, MI is located immediately west of the Detroit metropolitan area, with a population of just over 350,000 residents. A former manufacturing region, the county currently houses several major institutions that are playing a growing role in shaping the region’s economy and development patterns. The seat of Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor, MI, is home to the University of Michigan, which employs more than 30,000 people and has contributed to the growth of a vibrant, walkable business and entertainment district in Ann Arbor’s downtown. The county also houses Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, and a major U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical center.
While Washtenaw County has seen significant job growth over the past several years—a recent economic forecasting study estimates that between 2009 and 2016 the region will have gained 31,147 additional jobs—economic inequality is a growing challenge for the community. County Commissioner Conan Smith, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is working to address this issue by promoting economic development strategies that provide all county residents with greater access to opportunities.
This week, LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, a program of Smart Growth America, announced a three-part national strategy to address housing and social equity calling upon developers to join them in the cause. The proposed initiative would be centered around new conscious place-based social equity metrics.
The announcement came Tuesday during the third annual Walkable Urban Places Conference, co-hosted by Urban Land Institute Washington and the George Washington University Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis. LOCUS sponsored the event along with Venable LLP.
How does a community pursue smart growth in underserved neighborhoods where infrastructure problems, concentration of poverty and concerns about gentrification and displacement abound? Two-dozen leaders from diverse communities discussed this very question during the Local Leaders Policy Forum, held on June 16th in Washington, D.C.
Mayor Jacqueline Goodall of Forest Heights, MD shared her experience from living in several different cities over the years. “Gentrification and displacement are real, not perceived, concerns,” said Goodall. “Lower income and minority families can be very vulnerable to neighborhood changes that drive up costs even moderately. As leaders, we cannot overlook that threat.”
If once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, and thrice a trend, where are we now? More evidence continues to roll in that the high costs of fuel are pressing more and more Americans towards making lifestyle changes to reduce their consumption. Two stories over the weekend, one in the New York Times and … Continued