On the heels of National Walk to Work Day[in the U.S.], it is clear that hoofing it to the office has multiple health benefits.
But walkable urbanism can also be healthy for a local retail economy. Urban planning experts all over the country are busy designing the ultimate pedestrian experience, which can be so seamless that all a typical passer-by knows is the desire to wander into that nearby restaurant or shop.
Commercial properties in walkable urban locations pay off, with a higher value of 40% to 140% per SF over a drivable suburban product; additionally, rents are 20% to 100% higher, according to land-use strategist, professor, real estate developer and researcher Christopher Leinberger.
Retailers who know this are scrambling for a piece of the pedestrian experience. Especially during this real estate cycle, they are even leveling old strip malls just to create it. “The market is willing to pay dramatically more for walkable urban places,” Leinberger said.
One does not have to walk from home to participate as a pedestrian commuter. A walkable urban environment often includes multiple ways to arrive, including driving, biking, walking or light rail.
Upon arrival, the walkable area typically includes high density with a mix of uses. The area itself does not have to be large; about half a mile will suffice, Leinberger said.