In recent years, apartment and office towers have sprouted up around Greater Washington, in inner-city neighborhoods and suburban town centers alike. According to a new report from LOCUS, a smart growth advocacy group, these “walkable urban” places are actually driving the region’s growth.
People want “walkable urban” places like this, and developers are responding. Photo by the author.
The report won’t be released until a conference on the future of DC-area real estate next week, but the Wall Street Journal has a preview:
Since 2009, these walkable locations in the Washington area have seen 42% of new apartment development, up dramatically from 19% between 2000 and 2008, and 12% during the 1990s. A similar change was seen for offices, as 59% of the space delivered since 2009 was in these areas, up from 49% between 2000 and 2008 and 38% in the 1990s. …
To [Christopher] Leinberger, a developer himself, the shift for apartments and offices is a function of the market: Developers are getting higher rents in denser areas, leading to rising values compared with typical suburban-style development. “That’s the market telling you, dramatically, build more of this stuff,” Mr. Leinberger said. “There’s pent-up demand for walkable urban.”
Leinberger identifies include 43 “walkable urban” places, which are both “regionally significant” and meet a set of criteria for walkability. The places span everything from Columbia Heights in the District to inner suburbs like downtown Silver Spring and even satellite cities like downtown Frederick. As The Atlantic Cities notes, these “walkable urban” places take up less than 1% of the land in Greater Washington but already have a third of the region’s jobs.