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WalkUPs Are Bloody Expensive Places (Thanks To High Demand)

foot traffic

It’s simple economics: when supply is low and demand is high, a product is more expensive. Of course, this applies to real estate products as well.

It’s rather hard to find European-style walkable communities in the United States, but who doesn’t like such places? With the supply and demand mismatch, very walkable places (logically) cost more. A new report from the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at the George Washington University School of Business confirms this and also puts some numbers on it. Furthermore, it provides a walkability ranking of the 30 largest metropolitan areas of the US, “based on the amount of commercial development in Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs).” (Scroll to the bottom or check out the report for the ranking.)

The report, Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros, notes that walkable real estate development projects and places are actually increasing across the nation, but there’s still such a lack of supply that walkable developments come with a high premium.

washington dc

In these WalkUPS, rent per square foot sees a 74% higher premium over “drivable sub-urban areas,” noted Smart Growth America, whose LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors program was involved in the production of the report.

The metropolitan areas at the top of the ranking have 38% higher GDP on average. This is of course a correlation, and the researchers acknowledge that more research needs to be conducted to confirm causation. However, it fits within logic that walkable places would attract more economic activity, and it also fits within logic that those with the money to do so would like to make their communities and cities more walkable and pleasant.

“As economic engines, as talent attractors, and as highly productive real estate, these WalkUPs are a crucial component in building and sustaining a thriving urban economy. Cities with more WalkUPs are positioned for success, now and in the future,” Chris Leinberger, president of LOCUS and author of the report, said.

In total, the researchers identified 558 WalkUPs in the 30 metro areas studied. WalkUPS can be in any part of a city, and the report gave examples of WalkUPs in downtowns, adjacent to downtowns, in urban commercial districts, in urban university areas, in suburban town centers, in redeveloped suburbs, and on greenfield or brownfields sites.

The city ranking based on the share of WalkUPs in total office and retail space is as follows:

WALKUPs

If you have trouble seeing that, click to enlarge, or here’s the basic list and WalkUP share per city:

  1. Washington, DC (43%)
  2. New York (38%)
  3. Boston (36%)
  4. San Francisco (30%)
  5. Chicago (29%)
  6. Seattle (27%)
  7. Portland (22%)
  8. Atlanta (21%)
  9. Pittsburg (21%)
  10. Cleveland (20%)
  11. Baltimore (19%)
  12. Minneapolis (19%)
  13. Philadelphia (19%)
  14. Denver (18%)
  15. Houston (17%)
  16. Columbus (16%)
  17. Kansas City (16%)
  18. Los Angeles (16%)
  19. St Louis (15%)
  20. Cincinnati (15%)
  21. Sacramento (13%)
  22. Detroit (11%)
  23. Miami (10%)
  24. San Diego (10%)
  25. Dallas (9%)
  26. Las Vegas (8%)
  27. San Antonio (6%)
  28. Tampa (6%)
  29. Phoenix (5%)
  30. Orlando (5%)

Image Credits: George Washington University School of Business x 2; thisisbossi (some rights reserved)




8 comments
  1. Green Girl Success

    As a real estate investor and a sustainability consultant, I think walkable neighborhoods are well worth the cost and can save you a ton of money by not having a car which costs a typical individual $6-8k per year, not including car payments… yikes!

      1. Green Girl Success

        Good for you! It has only been a year for me, but I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. 🙂
        I like your Bikocity site. I’m involved with Complete Streets in my town and I’m looking for good economic statistics, lessons learned and success stories.

        1. Zachary Shahan

          Thanks. Yes, the meme that “going car-free isn’t possible” keeps a lot of people from doing it that actually can. Life-changing. Hard to understand people who think it’s a disadvantage 😀

  2. Green Girl Success

    As a real estate investor and a sustainability consultant, I think walkable neighborhoods are well worth the cost and can save you a ton of money by not having a car which costs a typical individual $6-8k per year, not including car payments… yikes!

      1. Green Girl Success

        Good for you! It has only been a year for me, but I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. 🙂
        I like your Bikocity site. I’m involved with Complete Streets in my town and I’m looking for good economic statistics, lessons learned and success stories.

        1. Zachary Shahan

          Thanks. Yes, the meme that “going car-free isn’t possible” keeps a lot of people from doing it that actually can. Life-changing. Hard to understand people who think it’s a disadvantage 😀

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