Walkable Urban Communities Have Huge Economic Impact in Metro Atlanta and Nationwide
study of Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs) in the Atlanta region was conducted in 2013 by Chris Leinberger of the George Washington University School of Business. Leinberger believes that WalkUPs will drive tomorrow’s national real estate industry and the economy, turning what was once a niche market into the market. He cites metro Atlanta as a harbinger for the rest of the country, as the region replaces urban sprawl with successful walkable communities – a change that he says is as important as the closing of the American frontier in the 1890s.
Leinberger conducted a similar study in the Washington, D.C. region and is in discussions with other metro areas, including Boston and Detroit about doing studies there.
- Metro Atlanta’s walkable urban places are attracting an increasing share of new development and have seen a rise in rent premiums over drivable suburban areas.
- Leinberger’s report puts the Atlanta region’s WalkUPs into three categories, Current, Emerging and Potential.
- The report notes that from 1992-2000, roughly 13 percent of real estate investment in the region went into Current and Emerging WalkUPs. From 2001-2008, that number doubled to 26 percent. Since 2009, it more than doubled again, reaching 60 percent.
- Current and Emerging WalkUPs account for 1/200 (.55 percent) of the region’s land area and 1/5 (20 percent) of the region’s office, retail and other commercial real estate.
- Current and Emerging WalkUPs contain 22 percent of the region’s jobs.
- Average rent for all development types in Current WalkUPs is 112 percent higher than in drivable suburban areas.
- Only 19 percent of office space delivered in the 1990s was built in then-Established WalkUPs. This increased to 31 percent in the 2000s and to 50 percent in 2009-2013.
There are seven types of WalkUPs in metro Atlanta. They are listed below, along with a few examples of each type:
Downtown – Georgia State and Government Center (includes ARC headquarters)
Downtown Adjacent – Centennial Olympic Park, Midtown
Urban Commercial – Arts Center, Inman Park
Urban University – Atlanta University Center, Emory, Georgia Tech
Suburban Town Center – Marietta, Decatur
Strip Commercial Redevelopment – Buckhead, Roswell
Greenfield/Brownfield – Atlantic Station