Old Town Alexandria, Frederick among top 10 downtowns across the country


(2012 file photo Daniel C. Britt/The Washington Post) Shoppers stroll along King Street in Old Town Alexandria.

Old Town Alexandria and Frederick, Md., have two of the best downtowns in the country, according to a Web site devoted to small and mid-sized cities.

Livability.com has an affinity for lists – top 10 cities for affordable health care (Charlottesville is No. 6), top 10 places to retire (Roanoke is No. 6), top 10 college towns (Boulder, Colo., is No. 1) – and their most recent list looks at downtowns across the country.

The Web site ranked downtowns based on population growth, ratio of residents to jobs, income growth, home vacancy rates, affordability of housing and retail and office vacancy rates. Then the staff weighed in on the overall livability of the city. Urban metropolises such as New York City, San Francisco and Chicago were not included on the list.

Fort Worth, Tex., came out on top. Besides 3.3 percent average income growth and 6.6 percent unemployment, Fort Worth also has achieved “the cohesion between cowboy culture and urban sophistication.”

Old Town Alexandria was fifth because of its “modern, hip vibe.” Other factors include its Colonial architecture, its appeal to businesses and families, a waterfront setting, sophisticated restaurants and accessibility to the arts (Torpedo Factory Art Center and Birchmere).

Frederick, Md., ranked sixth. The Web site lauded the downtown as a “magnet for East Coast artists.” Carroll Creek Park and the town’s historic architecture also factored into the rating as did its pooch-friendly accommodations.

Find the complete list here.

Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.
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