June 6, 2012

People pay more for walkable communities

"Today, the most valuable real estate lies in walkable urban locations," according to this analysis in the New York Times. Values for commercial and residential real estate in the Washington, D.C. metro area

"increase as neighborhoods became more walkable, where everyday needs, including working, can be met by walking, transit or biking. There is a five-step “ladder” of walkability, from least to most walkable. On average, each step up the walkability ladder adds $9 per square foot to annual office rents, $7 per square foot to retail rents, more than $300 per month to apartment rents and nearly $82 per square foot to home values."

And this likely applies elsewhere, with examples such as Seattle, where a downtown neighborhood once priced the same as suburban Redmond is now valued almost 50% higher.

Those claiming to be free-market supporters of suburban sprawl argued against smart-growth zoning because they said Americans didn't want it. What's the argument now?