Posts tagged "walkability"
The Atlantic Cities:
"Facebook’s ‘Company Town’ Looks a Bit Like Smart Growth
Jenny Xie. Oct 10, 2013
Bay Area tech companies are famous for providing their employees all kinds of perks, from free cereal to ball pits. Facebook, though, may be the first to provide housing (or as close as it can get to it). The company recently partnered with St. Anton Partners to fund a $120 million, 10-acre housing development down the street from its headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
The planned complex, designed by architecture firm KTGY Group, is the first major housing development in Menlo Park in 20 years, and is expected to open in 2016. According to Deanna Chow, a senior planner in Menlo Park’s planning department, the city is largely occupied by single-family homes. This 394-unit residential community will be the first mixed-use development of its scale in the city.  
A few years ago, Google proposed to rezone its headquarters in Mountain View for residential development, but was shot down by the City Council there. In Facebook’s case, the company got a bit lucky that a developer “laser-focused on building housing next to employers” decided to invest in a site just minutes from the social media company’s front doors.”
Photo: Facebook/Shutterstock

The Atlantic Cities:

"Facebook’s ‘Company Town’ Looks a Bit Like Smart Growth

Jenny Xie. Oct 10, 2013

Bay Area tech companies are famous for providing their employees all kinds of perks, from free cereal to ball pits. Facebook, though, may be the first to provide housing (or as close as it can get to it). The company recently partnered with St. Anton Partners to fund a $120 million, 10-acre housing development down the street from its headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

The planned complex, designed by architecture firm KTGY Group, is the first major housing development in Menlo Park in 20 years, and is expected to open in 2016. According to Deanna Chow, a senior planner in Menlo Park’s planning department, the city is largely occupied by single-family homes. This 394-unit residential community will be the first mixed-use development of its scale in the city.  

A few years ago, Google proposed to rezone its headquarters in Mountain View for residential development, but was shot down by the City Council there. In Facebook’s case, the company got a bit lucky that a developer “laser-focused on building housing next to employers” decided to invest in a site just minutes from the social media company’s front doors.”

Photo: Facebook/Shutterstock

PlaceShakers: 
“Industry, Infrastructure and Intermodalism—Still Mixed Up on Special Districts?
Scott Bernstein. July 15, 2013
In her September 2011 blog, Special Districts Getting All Mixed Up, Hazel Borys questioned why we treat large format areas with distinctive uses, such as manufacturing or aviation, as “special” to the point of exclusion from our efforts to integrate all urban land uses and activities into a spatially coherent whole, ending with an inspiring contemporary example of planned “strict integration” of land uses in the corridors and boulevards connecting the El Paso International Airport to the city.
Traditional zoning, such as implemented in Chicago in 1923 was defensive, leading to separation of land uses and activities from people. Defense was needed to socially separate people from unhealthful conditions—and the definitions of what impaired public health or well-being ranged from what was tangible and measurable including industrial emissions and noise to the intangible and unmeasured social classifications such as race, class and country of origin.
A similar challenge to urban character was made by leading planners and traffic engineers—for example, there’s a chapter in the Los Angeles comprehensive street traffic plan done in 1924 by Harland Bartholomew, Frederick Law Olmstead Jr. and Charles Henry Cheney finding that “The Promiscuous Mixing of Traffic” is a top cause of street congestion which a cynic might equate to an anti-miscegenation law.
But re-integrating the separated parts of our cities and regions demands that we affirm what’s possible. The two innovations required are (a) a shift from describing only what we want to see and experience to include a set of accountable outcomes, and (b) recognize that we have tools such as transects and form-based codes to help shape communities with respect to residential, commercial, and some recreational and municipal services; but we don’t have the tools to help shape land that has traditionally been “off-grid.”
Image: El Paso International Airport is soon to be walkable up to the terminal with mixed-use, pedestrian-scale urbanism. via Placeshakers

PlaceShakers

Industry, Infrastructure and Intermodalism—Still Mixed Up on Special Districts?

Scott Bernstein. July 15, 2013

In her September 2011 blog, Special Districts Getting All Mixed Up, Hazel Borys questioned why we treat large format areas with distinctive uses, such as manufacturing or aviation, as “special” to the point of exclusion from our efforts to integrate all urban land uses and activities into a spatially coherent whole, ending with an inspiring contemporary example of planned “strict integration” of land uses in the corridors and boulevards connecting the El Paso International Airport to the city.

Traditional zoning, such as implemented in Chicago in 1923 was defensive, leading to separation of land uses and activities from people. Defense was needed to socially separate people from unhealthful conditions—and the definitions of what impaired public health or well-being ranged from what was tangible and measurable including industrial emissions and noise to the intangible and unmeasured social classifications such as race, class and country of origin.

A similar challenge to urban character was made by leading planners and traffic engineers—for example, there’s a chapter in the Los Angeles comprehensive street traffic plan done in 1924 by Harland Bartholomew, Frederick Law Olmstead Jr. and Charles Henry Cheney finding that “The Promiscuous Mixing of Traffic” is a top cause of street congestion which a cynic might equate to an anti-miscegenation law.

But re-integrating the separated parts of our cities and regions demands that we affirm what’s possible. The two innovations required are (a) a shift from describing only what we want to see and experience to include a set of accountable outcomes, and (b) recognize that we have tools such as transects and form-based codes to help shape communities with respect to residential, commercial, and some recreational and municipal services; but we don’t have the tools to help shape land that has traditionally been “off-grid.”

Image: El Paso International Airport is soon to be walkable up to the terminal with mixed-use, pedestrian-scale urbanism. via Placeshakers

The Atlantic Cities: 
"The Coming Bold Transformation of the American City
Enrique Penalosa. April 30, 2013
In 40 years, 2.7 billion more people will live in world cities than do now, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Urban growth in China, India, and most of the developing world will be massive. But what is less known is that population growth will also be enormous in the United States.
The U.S. population will grow 36 percent to 438 million in 2050 from 322 million today. At today’s average of 2.58 persons per household, such growth would require 44.9 million new homes. However American households are getting smaller. If one were to estimate 2.2 persons per household—the household size in Germany today and the likely U.S. size by 2050—the United States would need 74.3 million new homes, not including secondary vacation homes. This means that over the next 40 years, the United States will build more homes than all those existing today in the United Kingdom, France, and Canada combined. Urban planner and theorist Peter Calthorpe predicts that California alone will add 20 million people and 7 million households by 2050.
To meet this demand, completely new urban environments will have to be created in the United States. Where and how will the new American homes be built? What urban structures are to be created?”
Photo: Battery Park City in Manhattan exemplifies how the quality of urban life can be enhanced by replacing waterfront roadways with parks or pedestrian infrastructure. (Left); A “highway” for pedestrians, bicycles, and transit on Jiménez Avenue in Bogotá, Colombia. (Right) Photo courtesy of Enrique Peñalosa.

The Atlantic Cities: 

"The Coming Bold Transformation of the American City

Enrique Penalosa. April 30, 2013

In 40 years, 2.7 billion more people will live in world cities than do now, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Urban growth in China, India, and most of the developing world will be massive. But what is less known is that population growth will also be enormous in the United States.

The U.S. population will grow 36 percent to 438 million in 2050 from 322 million today. At today’s average of 2.58 persons per household, such growth would require 44.9 million new homes. However American households are getting smaller. If one were to estimate 2.2 persons per household—the household size in Germany today and the likely U.S. size by 2050—the United States would need 74.3 million new homes, not including secondary vacation homes. This means that over the next 40 years, the United States will build more homes than all those existing today in the United Kingdom, France, and Canada combined. Urban planner and theorist Peter Calthorpe predicts that California alone will add 20 million people and 7 million households by 2050.

To meet this demand, completely new urban environments will have to be created in the United States. Where and how will the new American homes be built? What urban structures are to be created?”

Photo: Battery Park City in Manhattan exemplifies how the quality of urban life can be enhanced by replacing waterfront roadways with parks or pedestrian infrastructure. (Left); A “highway” for pedestrians, bicycles, and transit on Jiménez Avenue in Bogotá, Colombia. (Right) Photo courtesy of Enrique Peñalosa.

The Atlantic Cities: 
“The Case for Age-Friendly Suburbs
Several trends are conspiring to challenge America’s ability to house and care for its senior citizens. Utilizing successful examples, architect and planner Eric C.Y. Fang examines how the suburbs can be adapted to support an aging population.
Eric C.Y. Fang. April 5, 2013
America’s established framework for housing and caring for its senior citizens addresses a range of needs, from those with independent and active lifestyles to those requiring more intensive levels of care. What each of these models has traditionally had in common is they are typically housed in discrete, standalone facilities with an extensive – and expensive – array of on-site services. The focus is on services and amenities, rather than place.
Despite the demonstrated success of this framework, several trends may challenge its ability to continue as the dominant paradigm for housing America’s senior citizens. The first is the sheer number of people poised to cross the threshold into retirement age. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the anticipated tide of Baby Boomer retirees will double America’s senior population by 2030, increasing its ranks by 35 million [PDF]. The changing lifestyle preferences of seniors will also play a role, as increasing numbers continue working into their 70s and living in their own homes. Finally, the drop in property values resulting from the Great Recession has significantly impacted the retirement choices available. Together, these developments have begun to reverberate in how seniors choose to live, with a dramatic drop in the migration to Sunbelt states, and an increase in the average age of those moving into assisted-living facilities. The need for a greater range of attractive living options for this rapidly growing age cohort has never been more apparent.”
Photo: Eric Fang

The Atlantic Cities: 

The Case for Age-Friendly Suburbs

Several trends are conspiring to challenge America’s ability to house and care for its senior citizens. Utilizing successful examples, architect and planner Eric C.Y. Fang examines how the suburbs can be adapted to support an aging population.

Eric C.Y. Fang. April 5, 2013

America’s established framework for housing and caring for its senior citizens addresses a range of needs, from those with independent and active lifestyles to those requiring more intensive levels of care. What each of these models has traditionally had in common is they are typically housed in discrete, standalone facilities with an extensive – and expensive – array of on-site services. The focus is on services and amenities, rather than place.

Despite the demonstrated success of this framework, several trends may challenge its ability to continue as the dominant paradigm for housing America’s senior citizens. The first is the sheer number of people poised to cross the threshold into retirement age. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the anticipated tide of Baby Boomer retirees will double America’s senior population by 2030, increasing its ranks by 35 million [PDF]. The changing lifestyle preferences of seniors will also play a role, as increasing numbers continue working into their 70s and living in their own homes. Finally, the drop in property values resulting from the Great Recession has significantly impacted the retirement choices available. Together, these developments have begun to reverberate in how seniors choose to live, with a dramatic drop in the migration to Sunbelt states, and an increase in the average age of those moving into assisted-living facilities. The need for a greater range of attractive living options for this rapidly growing age cohort has never been more apparent.”

Photo: Eric Fang

Citytank:
Driven into Poverty: Walkable urbanism and the suburbanization of poverty
David Moser pens a compelling essay that examines the ways in which sprawling auto-dependent land use patterns exacerbate poverty. As more low-income individuals and families are pushed to the suburbs, “this problem is gaining urgency.”
David Moser. March 8, 2013

American suburbs are a particularly bad place to be poor. Though poverty poses dire and unjust challenges no matter where it exists, sprawling and auto-dependent land use patterns can exacerbate these difficulties. And this problem is gaining urgency, as more and more of America’s low-income individuals now live in suburbs (or are being pushed there), a phenomenon the Brookings Institute has called “the suburbanization of poverty”.

There are many reasons suburbs make the experience of poverty worse, but first among them is that automobiles are really expensive. Purchasing, maintaining, repairing, insuring, and fueling a car can easily consume 50% or more of a limited income. For someone struggling to work themselves out of poverty, these expenses can wreck havoc on even the most diligent efforts to maintain a monthly budget. With gas now approaching or exceeding $4.00/gallon, a full day’s work at minimum wage sometimes won’t pay for a single tank of gas. The burdens of sprawl weigh heaviest on the poor.”

 

Citytank:

Driven into Poverty: Walkable urbanism and the suburbanization of poverty

David Moser pens a compelling essay that examines the ways in which sprawling auto-dependent land use patterns exacerbate poverty. As more low-income individuals and families are pushed to the suburbs, “this problem is gaining urgency.”

David Moser. March 8, 2013

American suburbs are a particularly bad place to be poor. Though poverty poses dire and unjust challenges no matter where it exists, sprawling and auto-dependent land use patterns can exacerbate these difficulties. And this problem is gaining urgency, as more and more of America’s low-income individuals now live in suburbs (or are being pushed there), a phenomenon the Brookings Institute has called “the suburbanization of poverty”.

There are many reasons suburbs make the experience of poverty worse, but first among them is that automobiles are really expensive. Purchasing, maintaining, repairing, insuring, and fueling a car can easily consume 50% or more of a limited income. For someone struggling to work themselves out of poverty, these expenses can wreck havoc on even the most diligent efforts to maintain a monthly budget. With gas now approaching or exceeding $4.00/gallon, a full day’s work at minimum wage sometimes won’t pay for a single tank of gas. The burdens of sprawl weigh heaviest on the poor.”

 

“The Plain Dealer:
Cleveland is slowly becoming a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly town
Steven Litt. March 10, 2013
With little fanfare, Cleveland is undergoing a revolution in attitudes toward public space, city streets and walkability.
This has been a car town for decades, but that’s changing now.
After pitched battles among activists, trucking interests and the Ohio Department of Transportation over the past decade, dedicated bike paths have been installed on the Detroit-Superior andLorain-Carnegie bridges.
Regional trails are weaving their way into the industrial Flats alongside the Cuyahoga River and are within striking distance of the lakefront.
Mayor Frank Jackson wants the big new investments downtown, including the casino, the new convention center and the Global Center for Health Innovation, aka the medical mart, to be accompanied by beautiful new landscaping on Public Square and the downtown Mall.
None of this was happening 10 years ago, and it could not have happened until fairly recently. Civic and business leaders weren’t interested.”
Photo: John Kuntz, The Plain Dealer

The Plain Dealer:

Cleveland is slowly becoming a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly town

Steven Litt. March 10, 2013

With little fanfare, Cleveland is undergoing a revolution in attitudes toward public space, city streets and walkability.

This has been a car town for decades, but that’s changing now.

After pitched battles among activists, trucking interests and the Ohio Department of Transportation over the past decade, dedicated bike paths have been installed on the Detroit-Superior andLorain-Carnegie bridges.

Regional trails are weaving their way into the industrial Flats alongside the Cuyahoga River and are within striking distance of the lakefront.

Mayor Frank Jackson wants the big new investments downtown, including the casino, the new convention center and the Global Center for Health Innovation, aka the medical mart, to be accompanied by beautiful new landscaping on Public Square and the downtown Mall.

None of this was happening 10 years ago, and it could not have happened until fairly recently. Civic and business leaders weren’t interested.”

Photo: John Kuntz, The Plain Dealer

Switchboard:
“Are Main Streets a thing of the past? Is that OK?
Kaid Benfield. February 4, 2013.
As someone whose job is to promote sustainability in our communities, I sometimes think the traditional American Main Street is a terrific model worth preserving and emulating.  It meets so many of the basic aspirations of smart growth:  it’s walkable, compact, centrally located, with many types of shops and services integrated together, usually with places to live on upper floors or in houses a short walk away.  It has a human scale, neither skyscrapers nor sprawl but something in between.  Does the past point the way to a more sustainable future?  Some smart observers strongly believe so.
But, when it comes to “Main Street,” the definition can get a little fuzzy.  The Cambridge Dictionary of Essential American English is as good a place as any to start:  Main Street is “the main road in the middle of a town where there are stores and other businesses.”  The Oxford English Dictionary cites usages going back as far as 1598.  When those of us in the field of placemaking use the phrase, we’re generally thinking of the kind of shopping districts that used to serve smaller towns and cities.  Frequently the shops and services were aligned adjacent or close to each other along the most prominent street in town, which many places literally called Main Street.”
Photo: Broadway Street, Cottonfalls Way, KS. Sandy Sorlien 

Switchboard:

Are Main Streets a thing of the past? Is that OK?

Kaid Benfield. February 4, 2013.

As someone whose job is to promote sustainability in our communities, I sometimes think the traditional American Main Street is a terrific model worth preserving and emulating.  It meets so many of the basic aspirations of smart growth:  it’s walkable, compact, centrally located, with many types of shops and services integrated together, usually with places to live on upper floors or in houses a short walk away.  It has a human scale, neither skyscrapers nor sprawl but something in between.  Does the past point the way to a more sustainable future?  Some smart observers strongly believe so.

But, when it comes to “Main Street,” the definition can get a little fuzzy.  The Cambridge Dictionary of Essential American English is as good a place as any to start:  Main Street is “the main road in the middle of a town where there are stores and other businesses.”  The Oxford English Dictionary cites usages going back as far as 1598.  When those of us in the field of placemaking use the phrase, we’re generally thinking of the kind of shopping districts that used to serve smaller towns and cities.  Frequently the shops and services were aligned adjacent or close to each other along the most prominent street in town, which many places literally called Main Street.”

Photo: Broadway Street, Cottonfalls Way, KS. Sandy Sorlien 

Foreign Policy:
“A New U.S. Grand Strategy
Why walkable communities, sustainable economics, and multilateral diplomacy are the future of American power.
By Patrick Doherty. Jan 9, 2013
The strategic landscape of the 21st century has finally come into focus. The great global project is no longer to stop communism, counter terrorists, or promote a superficial notion of freedom. Rather, the world must accommodate 3 billion additional middle-class aspirants in two short decades — without provoking resource wars, insurgencies, and the devastation of our planet’s ecosystem. For this we need a strategy.
The status quo is untenable. In the United States, the country’s economic engine is misaligned to the threats and opportunities of the 21st century. Designed explicitly to exploit postwar demand for suburban housing, consumer goods, and reconstruction materials for Europe and Japan, the conditions that allowed it to succeed expired by the early 1970s. Its shelf life has since been extended by accommodative monetary policy and the accumulation of household, corporate, and federal debt. But with Federal Reserve interest rates effectivelyzero, Americans’ debt exceeding their income, and storms lashing U.S. cities, the country is at the end of the road.”
Photo:  Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images

Foreign Policy:

A New U.S. Grand Strategy

Why walkable communities, sustainable economics, and multilateral diplomacy are the future of American power.

By Patrick Doherty. Jan 9, 2013

The strategic landscape of the 21st century has finally come into focus. The great global project is no longer to stop communism, counter terrorists, or promote a superficial notion of freedom. Rather, the world must accommodate 3 billion additional middle-class aspirants in two short decades — without provoking resource wars, insurgencies, and the devastation of our planet’s ecosystem. For this we need a strategy.

The status quo is untenable. In the United States, the country’s economic engine is misaligned to the threats and opportunities of the 21st century. Designed explicitly to exploit postwar demand for suburban housing, consumer goods, and reconstruction materials for Europe and Japan, the conditions that allowed it to succeed expired by the early 1970s. Its shelf life has since been extended by accommodative monetary policy and the accumulation of household, corporate, and federal debt. But with Federal Reserve interest rates effectivelyzero, Americans’ debt exceeding their income, and storms lashing U.S. cities, the country is at the end of the road.”

Photo:  Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images

The Atlantic Cities:
“Mumbai’s Walkability Problem: Plenty of Pedestrians, Not Enough Sidewalks
Mark Bergen.
MUMBAI — In the middle of the road just outside Citi Mall, Rishi Aggarwal and I are stuck. We made it only halfway across K.L. Walawalkar Marg, the broad boulevard in the northern neighborhood of Andheri West. So we wait on the median. We then do what many of the roughly ten thousand others who cross the same street every day do: find an opportune moment to sprint to the other side.
As Aggarwal shows me his native city, I thought of my own. Earlier this fall, Michael Coleman, the mayor of Columbus, Ohio, unfurled another set of plans to make his city more “walkable.” Like many other mayors of vacated U.S. cities, his announcement was part desperate plea to convince people to move by foot.
Cities like Mumbai, as they scramble to manage their swelling numbers, hold a critical advantage that metropolises in the tinier democracy do not:  Indians walk.
Every day, Mumbai pavements host around 15 million walking trips. Many are en route to buses or trains, or both. Yet nearly a third of these trips are completed on foot alone. For a majority of the many households here earning less than $100 a month, walking is the sole means of travel.
But Indian cities can be impossibly cruel to pedestrians. Before crossing, Aggarwal and I watch a blind man navigate deep potholes beside a bus stand. “It’s a complete mess,” he sighs.”
Photo: Mark Bergen

The Atlantic Cities:

Mumbai’s Walkability Problem: Plenty of Pedestrians, Not Enough Sidewalks

Mark Bergen.

MUMBAI — In the middle of the road just outside Citi Mall, Rishi Aggarwal and I are stuck. We made it only halfway across K.L. Walawalkar Marg, the broad boulevard in the northern neighborhood of Andheri West. So we wait on the median. We then do what many of the roughly ten thousand others who cross the same street every day do: find an opportune moment to sprint to the other side.

As Aggarwal shows me his native city, I thought of my own. Earlier this fall, Michael Coleman, the mayor of Columbus, Ohio, unfurled another set of plans to make his city more “walkable.” Like many other mayors of vacated U.S. cities, his announcement was part desperate plea to convince people to move by foot.

Cities like Mumbai, as they scramble to manage their swelling numbers, hold a critical advantage that metropolises in the tinier democracy do not:  Indians walk.

Every day, Mumbai pavements host around 15 million walking trips. Many are en route to buses or trains, or both. Yet nearly a third of these trips are completed on foot alone. For a majority of the many households here earning less than $100 a month, walking is the sole means of travel.

But Indian cities can be impossibly cruel to pedestrians. Before crossing, Aggarwal and I watch a blind man navigate deep potholes beside a bus stand. “It’s a complete mess,” he sighs.”

Photo: Mark Bergen

“Study: Shift to walkable urban places is good news for economy
Posted by Robert Steuteville on 10 Sep 2012
In the first regional, comprehensive study of mixed-use urban centers, Christopher Leinberger coins a clever term, WalkUPs (walkable, urban places). Leinberger examines 43 WalkUPs in the Washington, DC, region, most of which have been created in the last two decades.
Although they only occupy 1-2 percent of the DC land area, they account for 29 percent of the income-producing property and they generate tax revenues far out of proportion to the land they consume. Since 1990, WalkUPs have steadily gained a larger share of commercial development in the region, and Leinberger, research professor of urban real estate at the George Washington University School of Business, argues DC is a model for how the nation will develop in the coming decades.
"This shift is extremely good news for the beleaguered real estate industry and the economy as a whole," he says. "It will put a foundation under the economy as well as government tax revenues, much like drivable sub-urban development benefited the economy and selected jurisdictions in the second half of the 20th century." Better! Cities & Towns will feature a more extensive report on The WalkUP Wake-Up Call in the coming October-November issue. Here are some highlights from the report:
• There’s a pent-up demand for WalkUPs. “Up until the 1980s, drivable suburban office space commanded a premium rent over WalkUPs, but this position has reversed. There is currently a 75 percent premium for WalkUP office rent, giving such places a market advantage.”
• The shift toward WalkUPs has refocused development toward the center. The vast majority are in the city core and first-ring suburbs. 
• Walkable urban development used to be a niche market, Leinberger says. “Today and in the future, it will be considered the market.” One reason is overbuilding of sprawl in the last five or six decades. Another is the highly educated, creative workforce that is increasingly made up of 1- and 2-person households. DC is ahead of the nation in education level, but other metro areas are heading in the same direction. This workforce prefers WalkUPs, he says, and metro areas without them will be left behind.
• The new real estate paradigm is no longer city versus suburbia, it is walkable versus drivable (drivable only — walkable places are also drivable, but not the reverse). Many of the new WalkUPs are in the suburbs, including suburban town centers like Rockville and Silver Spring that have been revitalized, and commercial strip corridors that are being redeveloped.
• Three factors explain the increased economic performance of WalkUPs: greater walkability, job density, and higher workforce education.
• Land values are much higher in WalkUPs, which impacts housing costs. Residents compensate by renting and occupying smaller spaces.
• Transportation costs are low in WalkUPs. Looking at housing and transportation costs combined, WalkUPs are relatively affordable, even in DC. About 78 percent of WalkUPs have housing and transportation costs below 45 percent of the area median income, and below the regional average.
• Racial diversity is much higher in WalkUPs, with more than three-quarters having a diversity index higher than the region as a whole.”
Via: Better! Cities & Towns

Study: Shift to walkable urban places is good news for economy

Posted by Robert Steuteville on 10 Sep 2012

In the first regional, comprehensive study of mixed-use urban centers, Christopher Leinberger coins a clever term, WalkUPs (walkable, urban places). Leinberger examines 43 WalkUPs in the Washington, DC, region, most of which have been created in the last two decades.

Although they only occupy 1-2 percent of the DC land area, they account for 29 percent of the income-producing property and they generate tax revenues far out of proportion to the land they consume. Since 1990, WalkUPs have steadily gained a larger share of commercial development in the region, and Leinberger, research professor of urban real estate at the George Washington University School of Business, argues DC is a model for how the nation will develop in the coming decades.

"This shift is extremely good news for the beleaguered real estate industry and the economy as a whole," he says. "It will put a foundation under the economy as well as government tax revenues, much like drivable sub-urban development benefited the economy and selected jurisdictions in the second half of the 20th century." Better! Cities & Towns will feature a more extensive report on The WalkUP Wake-Up Call in the coming October-November issue. Here are some highlights from the report:

• There’s a pent-up demand for WalkUPs. “Up until the 1980s, drivable suburban office space commanded a premium rent over WalkUPs, but this position has reversed. There is currently a 75 percent premium for WalkUP office rent, giving such places a market advantage.”

• The shift toward WalkUPs has refocused development toward the center. The vast majority are in the city core and first-ring suburbs. 

• Walkable urban development used to be a niche market, Leinberger says. “Today and in the future, it will be considered the market.” One reason is overbuilding of sprawl in the last five or six decades. Another is the highly educated, creative workforce that is increasingly made up of 1- and 2-person households. DC is ahead of the nation in education level, but other metro areas are heading in the same direction. This workforce prefers WalkUPs, he says, and metro areas without them will be left behind.

• The new real estate paradigm is no longer city versus suburbia, it is walkable versus drivable (drivable only — walkable places are also drivable, but not the reverse). Many of the new WalkUPs are in the suburbs, including suburban town centers like Rockville and Silver Spring that have been revitalized, and commercial strip corridors that are being redeveloped.

• Three factors explain the increased economic performance of WalkUPs: greater walkability, job density, and higher workforce education.

• Land values are much higher in WalkUPs, which impacts housing costs. Residents compensate by renting and occupying smaller spaces.

• Transportation costs are low in WalkUPs. Looking at housing and transportation costs combined, WalkUPs are relatively affordable, even in DC. About 78 percent of WalkUPs have housing and transportation costs below 45 percent of the area median income, and below the regional average.

• Racial diversity is much higher in WalkUPs, with more than three-quarters having a diversity index higher than the region as a whole.

Via: Better! Cities & Towns

Architectural + Urban Research

Mass Urban is a multidisciplinary design-research initiative concerned with contemporary cities and urbanism. Mass Urban was co-founded in April 2011 by David Lee and Cliff Lau.

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