Walkable Commercial DistrictsThe US Experience Gary Hack Dean Emeritus and Professor of Urban Design University of Pennsylvania
What do we mean by “walkable commercial areas?” • Neighborhood serving cluster of shops, services and entertainment serving nearby residential area. • Downtown pedestrian zones serving workers and people who arrive by transit or autos. • Main (high) streets in smaller towns and cities. • Transit oriented centers along metro or tram lines.
What does research tell us about the viability of walkable commercial areas? • A significant fraction of urbanites would like to live within walking distance of such areas. • Housing is more valuable if near such areas. • More people walk when commercial uses are clustered near their homes or offices. • Commercial rents are higher in walkable centers. • Density matters. • Pedestrian friendly neighborhoods attract more commercial opportunities.
Demand for living near walkable shopping areas. • 29% of Atlanta residents and 40% of Boston residents would like to live where they can walk to a commercial area. (2005) • Nationally, a consumer preference survey found that 66% of Americans prefer a residential area that is “within walking distance of stores, restaurants and other places in a community.” (2011) • The number of housing units where this is possible is less than the demand.
2 Impacts on housing prices • When new housing is available in Atlanta within walking distance of shops and services it can command a premium of $20,000. (1999) • Housing with above average Walk Scores is priced $4,000-$34,000 higher than average scores in 15 cities surveyed. (2009) Walk Scores measure the accessibility of shops and amenities within 5-30 minutes of a location
3 Impacts on walking • The presence of nearby shops and services is the best predictor of whether people actually walk to destinations. (2006) • Residents will tend to walk to local shopping districts if they are within 20 minutes of home or located near transit opportunities (2006)
4 Commercial sales and rents • Retail properties with a Walk Score of 80 were valued 54% higher than those with a Walk Score of 20. (2010) • They have a NOI that is 42% higher. (2010) Caution: some of the best local shopping districts have lower rents than other areas, which is what makes them attractive to diverseoutlets.
5 Impacts of density • Residents in areas with net densities greater than 21.7 units per acre are more likely to walk to shopping or other local destinations. (2006) • The three “D’s” – Density, Diversity and Design result in fewer driving trips and more walking and cycling. (1997)
6 Range of outlets attracted • Walkable commercial districts attract 3 to 4 times as many commercial outlets as do drive-to districts (2011) • Pedestrian improvements can pay dividends in attracting new outlets. In Lodi California, they helped attract 30 new shops, and increased sales of 30%. (2000) • Encouraging cycling can also increase revenues of shops in walkable districts. In San Francisco, one area reported 37% sales increases. (2003)
Apartments Big Box Area Entertainment Offices Main Street Shopping Kentlands Shopping Area, Gaithersburg, Maryland