A 2011 survey by the National Association of Realtors found that 58 percent of respondents favor walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods over neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation.
Rental apartment developers are also seeking walkable, urban areas, says Leinberger. In the 1990s, 12 percent of the region’s new rental apartment space was built in WalkUPs. Today, it’s 42 percent, Leinberger finds.
North Bethesda Market, for example, has apartments, a Whole Foods, a fitness center and restaurants near the White Flint Metro. And AVA H Street — a 140-unit complex — is near Union Station, Bike Share and Zip Car locations, restaurants and other amenities, including a Giant scheduled to open next year.
Louis at 14th/U, a residential and retail development in the U Street Corridor, and District, a seven-story mixed use building located on the corner of 14th and S Street NW are under construction.
Rents and home values are even higher in walkable urban areas that are clustered together, such as Dupont Circle, Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Kalorama, West End, Columbia Heights, U Street, Logan Circle and downtown, the report says. In Virginia, Clarendon, Virginia Square, Courthouse and Ballston form a walkable urban district.
With the proliferation of bike- and car-sharing programs, living car-free has never been more convenient.
Most (33 of the 43 regionally significant WalkUPs) are near rail transit or will be when construction is complete.
Being within a mile (and therefore an easy walk) to the Metro “makes living very easy,” says Marcie Sandalow, an agent with Chevy Chase-based Evers and Company Real Estate. “Clients are willing to pay more for it.”
Zillow has included Walk Scores in its listings since 2009, just after Walk Score was founded. The Seattle-based company ranks neighborhoods on a scale of 0, meaning very car-dependent, to 100, a “walker’s paradise” where most errands can be done without a car.
Buyers are also relying more on smart phone apps that show the nearest walkable amenities, from elementary schools to coffee shops. As real estate agents are quick to tell house hunters, a home’s proximity to such destinations may end up meaning just as much as its address. “People love being able to wander up for an ice cream after dinner, or to let the kids walk to see a movie,” Sandalow says.
The shift away from neighborhoods where residents must drive to stores and offices is evident in local government smart-growth policies and community plans, according to Leinberger’s report.