It seems as though it is the week of the walker (previous post, ‘Mindset of the Walkable City‘, got a great response) but the focus here will shift: what actual value does walking or the encouragement of walking bring in real terms?
According to research from the NY Times, walkability creates an environment of social surveillance – crime levels drop, street life enjoys a renewed vibrancy and evidence now suggests that it boosts property value.
There is an innovative site, Walk Score, that judges the walkability of your home’s surrounding locale. The site aggregates the closeness of local amenities in order to judge the ease of movement through the area.
Cortright (who spoke at the 2009 CNU Transportation Summit in Portland) contends that “the spike in gasoline prices in 2005 popped the housing bubble. He found that distant suburbs had the largest declines in home values, while prices in ‘close in’ neighborhoods, typically those that were the most walkable, held up or, in a few cases, increased.” – Congress for the New Urbanism (see Mr. Cortright’s White Paper here)
Stan Humphreys, an economics Chief at Zillow.com, used data on city concentric circles and found it true that real estate in inner-cities (with ready access to amenities) holds value and weathers economic storms more robustly than suburban and outer-city property. He bluntly states: “If you are a rational actor trying to maximize your dollar, you may have to pay more.”
The notion of inner-city developments holding their value is not new. They are, after all, often considered “prime real estate” and retain their demand above and beyond other classes of property. That is essentially why the Walk Scores correlated with inner city, walkable neighbourhoods and in a number of cases show resistance to recession.
(thanks to Green Growth Cascadia)