A new report from Smart Growth America ranks the 30 top metropolitan areas in the United States based on the amount of¬†commercial development in Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs).
The report, titled, ‚ÄúFoot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America‚Äôs Largest Metros,‚Äù was released jointly by Smart Growth America‚Äôs LOCUS network and the George Washington University Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis.
In a WalkUP, everyday destinations such as home, work, stores, restaurants and schools are all within walking distance. The report focuses on identifying significant WalkUPs in each of the top 30 metros, and provides some interesting urban development data and trends they bumped into while doing so.
They found a total of 558 WalkUPs spread across all 30 of the top metros. The top five metro areas, based on their current levels of walkable urbanism, are Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, San Francisco and Chicago.
Walkable urbanism here is determined based on the share of office and retail space in each metro that is located in the WalkUPs.
The DC¬†metro area topped the rankings with 43 percent (297,300,000 square feet out of a total of 696,441,000) of its office and retail space located in WalkUPs.
New York came in second with 38 percent of its retail and office space in WalkUPs, followed by Boston (36 percent), San Francisco (30 percent) and Chicago (29 percent).
The New York metro area with 66 WalkUPs tops the list in terms of the sheer number of WalkUPs, followed by San Francisco with 57 and Los Angeles with 54.
The report says while attempting to define the geographic boundaries of the WalkUPs, they found that the WalkUPs deliver outsized economic benefits relative to their small geographic size.
For instance, the 45 WalkUPs in metro DC occupy an average of 408 acres each, adding up to a total of 17,500 acres, or less than one percent of the acreage of the entire metro area. Yet these 45 WalkUPs account for 48 percent of all new office, hotel, and rental apartment square footage for the current real estate cycle which began in 2009.
Similarly, metro Atlanta‚Äôs 27 WalkUPs occupy an average of 374 acres each,adding up to around 10,000 acres. This is again less than one percent of the metro area‚Äôs total acreage, and yet the WalkUPs account for 50 percent of office, retail, hotel and apartment square footage developed in between 2009 to 2013.
Chris Leinberger, president of LOCUS and the author of the Foot Traffic Ahead report, said their survey reveals just how important Walkable Urban Places are. Leinberger said that as highly productive real estate, talent attractors and economic engines, these WalkUPs are a crucial component for building and sustaining thriving urban economies.
Read the full Foot Traffic Ahead report ‚Äì Download (pdf)