July 2, 2019
By Zoe Stutman
Walkable urban development (or WalkUPs), have recently gained much attention within the CRE realm. The largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. are shifting their energy toward bolstering their WalkUPs. These properties are seeing both significantly higher rental premiums and market shares, compared to their drivable suburban counterparts. Essentially, WalkUPs are edging out their market competition.
2019 Foot Traffic Ahead (FTA), an annual report spearheaded by George Washington University’s School of Business, examines the walkable urbanism in 30 of the largest metropolitan areas within the country, as well as their projected growth and social equity performance. The study highlights the correlation between walkable urbanism, education and income levels, finding that “metros with the highest levels of walkable urbanism are also the most educated and wealthy (as measured by GDP per capita)—and, surprisingly, the most socially equitable.”
According to the report, the metro regions with the greatest walkable urban real estate include New York City, Denver, Boston, Washington D.C., the San Francisco Bay Area, and Chicago. However, there are clear disparities between the highest and lowest regions. For instance, the six aforementioned most walkable urban metros have a 52% greater GDP per capita than the seven lowest ranked metros. This dramatically disproportionate income level creates a severe dichotomy in economic status between the over and underperforming areas. Additionally, in these highly-walkable urban real estate regions, researchers found lower transportation costs offset higher housing rates, establishing a more socially equitable walkable urban place for residents and businesses alike.
While WalkUPs may make up a less than one percent of the total land of the top 30 U.S. metropolitan regions, they occupy a significant place in the CRE market. WalkUPs influence regions’ demographics not only in terms of residents, but also in regards to income-producing real estate, specifically “office, retail, and multifamily product types.” Income-producing real estate in walkable urban places produce 75%-per-square-foot rent premiums over the balance of the metro area income real estate. Fiscal growth is expected to more than double 2010 prices for walkable urban real estate in the largest metro areas, as their market shares continue to surpass those of the past. This remarkable economic increase is seen across 19 of the 30 metro regions in the report.
The 2019 FTA data, alongside walkable urbanism’s undeniable rise in popularity and prevalence, indicates that the country’s metropolitan landscape will experience a dramatic shift in growth patterns, with real-estate indicators positively trending towards this idea of urban development.
“Foot Traffic Ahead shows that the future is walkable, mixed-use places,” said Calvin Gladney, president and CEO of Smart Growth America. “Metro areas have a choice to make: continue distorting the market by subsidizing an outdated form of sprawling growth that separates residents from their daily needs, cuts them off from opportunity, and costs more to serve and maintain… or, realize the massive potential benefits of meeting the pent-up demand for walkable places, which is one of the best ways to help more residents live in areas that are affordable, healthy, and prosperous.”
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Dennis Kaiser