Walkable Urban Centers Report Released by LOCUS and ULI Washington

WalkUP Report

Guest post with Casey Peterson

There is pent up-demand for walkable urban development in American metropolitan regions, and Washington DC is a national model for what’s to come, says DC: The WalkUP Wake-Up Call, a recently released report from LOCUS and ULI Washington. The report highlights the work of Christopher Leinberger, LOCUS President and walkability advocate.

DC: The WalkUP Wake-Up Call is based on data from an earlier Brookings Institute report, Walk this Way: The Economic Promise of Walkable Places in Metropolitan Washington, D.C. “WalkUPs” is short for walkable urban places, characterized by a variety of aesthetic, density, personal safety, and public spaces factors. After identifying and analyzing 43 regionally significant WalkUPs in the DC metro area, the report suggests that WalkUps are growing in number and importance across the DC region, and they command a significant market premium.

Among the report’s findings:

  • There is a 75% rental premium for office space in DC WalkUPs, compared to the region’s average rents
  • Housing for sale in DC WalkUPs is 71% higher per square foot than the average of prices in the DC metro area
  • The 43 regionally significant WalkUPs are 15 times more dense than the rest of the DC metro area
  • Office, retail, apartment, and hotel space in DC metro area WalkUPs has risen from accounting for 24% of new development during the 1990s real estate cycle, to 48% of all development in the cycle that started in 2009.
  • WalkUPs are host to a growing share of new rental apartment development. In the 1990s, 12% of new rental apartment space was built in WalkUPs, but in 2012 42% was.

The 43 regionally significant WalkUPs identified in the report account for about 34% of metro area jobs in DC. WalkUPs don’t have to be in the city—over half of the regionally significant WalkUPs identified were in suburban locations. And while most of them have rail transit, 10 of the WalkUPs identified do not.

The report points to directions for future research, including additional exploration of equity issues and analysis of non-regionally significant WalkUps.

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