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Walkable Urban Locations Continue to Rise in Popularity

Walkable real estate development projects and places continue to increase nationwide, but some metro regions are progressing faster than others, according to a new national report released by LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, a program of Smart Growth America, in conjunction with the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at the George Washington University School of Business.

The report—Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metro Areas—ranked the country’s top 30 metro areas based on the amount of commercial development in Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs). The report also used a series of forward-looking metrics to examine the future development patterns in these metro areas to predict how walkable or how sprawling their future development likely will be.

“In a sweeping survey of our nation’s top 30 metro areas, Foot Traffic Ahead reveals just how important Walkable Urban Places are,” said Chris Leinberger, president of LOCUS and author of the report. “As economic engines, as talent attractors and as highly productive real estate, these WalkUPs are a crucial component in building and sustaining a thriving urban economy. Cities with more WalkUPs are positioned for success, now and in the future.”

Across the 30 metro areas (representing 54 percent of the national GDP), the research found a total of 619 regionally significant WalkUPs. High-ranking cities showed higher education levels and nearly 50 percent higher GDP per capita.

While metro areas like Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle ranked among the top current areas for walkable urbanism, the report found that other cities including Phoenix, Los Angeles and metro Detroit are best-positioned for future growth of walkability given current efforts in those the communities.

“This is an important study underlining the economic power of walkable places, and identifying which metro areas are adding them fastest,” said Geoff Anderson, president and CEO of Smart Growth America. “Cities that want to thrive in our new economic and demographic realities will need to find ways to create and support more of these dynamic, productive walkable districts that are in high demand.”