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Via the Huffington Post, F. Kaid Benfield of PlaceMakers writes that the most sought after amenity for renters and buyers is now 'walkability'. Access to services, shops, restaurants and transportation is now a huge consideration for millennials and baby boomers, whether they prefer to live in the suburbs or in the urban core. Benfield cites a nationwide survey by the National Association of Realtors and Portland State University that found 'walkability' as an important factor in the selection of where people live.
Across all generations, the Realtors/Portland State survey found that an overwhelming majority of respondents - 79 percent - believe it to be very or somewhat important, in choosing a home, to be "within an easy walk of other places and things in the community." It also found that people who now live in such neighborhoods are especially satisfied with the quality of life in their communities. Fifty-four percent of those respondents who agreed with the statement "there are lots of places to walk nearby, such as shops, cafes, and restaurants" reported being very satisfied with the quality of life in their communities; only 41 percent of all respondents reported being very satisfied.
Benfield notes that while most cities across the United States have areas that can be considered 'walkable', there aren’t enough to meet demand.
And, because their supply is limited, prices for walkable locations are sky-high. Research has shown that each one-point increase in a home's Walk Score (a 100-point scale measuring an address's accessibility to walkable destinations) is associated with a $700 to $3000 increase in its value compared to less walkable homes of comparable size.
So what can be done to create more walkable areas in our cities and suburbs? Banfield offers a few good solutions, including the implementation of form-based codes and a focus on LEED for Neighborhood Development when updating that existing zoning codes.