The economic power of walkability in metro areas

In this article, the authors, Tracy Hadden Loh and Christopher B. Leinberger caution us to be careful about using an old framing–city versus suburb–to understand a new trend: the growing market for walkable urban places found both in traditional downtowns and increasingly throughout metro areas with multiple cores.

 

There are a number of  key points found in the article, along with plenty of useful reference links such as a detailed Report entitled

Foot Traffic Ahead – Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros

  • There are 761 regionally significant, walkable urban places—hereafter referred to as WalkUPs—in the 30 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. These WalkUPs occupy a minute portion of the total land mass of the top 30 U.S. metropolitan areas (less than one percent), but deliver outsized economic performance.
  • The metro regions with the most walkable urban real estate in the office, retail, and rental multifamily product types, as measured by occupied square footage
  • Infrastructure isn’t the only necessary ingredient for walkable places. Zoning matters too, as walkable urban land development is generally illegal on the vast majority of metropolitan land. In metro Washington, D.C., for instance, zoning regulations and political oppositionmake it prohibitively difficult to build walkable urban places on 98% of the land.
  • Opposition to walkable urbanism hinders its growth and progress, despite research that shows higher density walkable urban places result in more sustainable tax bases, new economic foundations for the local economy, better climate outcomes, and better health outcomes. Furthermore, a new Brookings reportfound that high density places are correlated with faster job growth and greater prosperity.
  • WALKABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT IS NOT JUST FOR BIG, HIGH-PERFORMING METRO AREAS
  • PLACES NEED SHORT TERM, AGGRESSIVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING NOW

Are there solutions to affordable housing? Yes, the authors suggest that place management organizations, such as business improvement organizations, can assume responsibility for advocating for and developing affordable housing in their WalkUPs (such as 3CDC in Cincinnati).