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What Does “Walkability” Say About Your Neighborhood?

September 8, 2009

PreservationNation » Blog Archive » What Does “Walkability” Say About Your Neighborhood?.

Preservationists continually try to link  “preservation” (older buildings, neighborhoods with character, the sense of stability, etc.) with some sort of proof that preservation can equal money (because our world really comes down to money most of the time, can we all agree on that, even if we don’t agree with it?).  It’s a challenge because it’s hard to quantify what it is about preservation that adds value to a neighborhood.  So much is subjective, or hard to quantify.

Which is why I read with interest the attached post from the National Trust for Historic Preservation that studies “walkability” and links it to increased property values.  The author of the study Joseph Cortwright, for CEOs for Cities, create a “Walk Score” and studies 15 markets.

Older and historic neighborhoods tend to be very walkable and scored well.  Yay!

Perhaps this is an example to be followed — we need to look at the very quantifiable features and benefits of historic buildings and neighborhoods and measure their value in those terms.  Let’s see, other than “walkability” what else can we come up with?  “Sustainability”?  “Artistic quality” (there I am thinking of how the cost of a house often doesn’t capture the real value of the workmanship it contains — e.g. think of each individual piece of craftsmanship contained in a place like La Ronda — what’s the value to reproduce that intricately carved window or mantel in the current market — of course, a valuation like that could be a nightmare if you let the insurers see it…).  What other benefits can you think of?

Check the Walk Score for your property and see how you do.  (Walk Scores available for 40 U.S. cities).  How does your place rank?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2009 8:20 am

    The first location that comes to my mind is Old Town Alexandria. I watch some of the programs on HGTV that depict the house hunting process, and without doubt, easy access to shopping, entertainment & the arts is one of the most desirable features in location and definitely increases the value of a property.

    I’m not sure if that’s the same Walk Score test I took a while back, but unfortunately it wasn’t exactly accurate. Yes, I live within walking distance of many amenities, it’s just that there are NO sidewalks on any of the access roads.

    • Sabra Smith permalink*
      September 9, 2009 8:34 am

      Is Old Town Alexandria a new town (a la Disney’s Celebration?) or an old town? (I’d be suspicious if they spelled it “Olde Towne”) It’s interesting to look at when neighborhoods developed and how they reflect what we “value” — my neighborhood, established in the late 1800s, has houses with front porches, each set back from the street, and sidewalks. The sidewalks get used a lot by dogwalkers, calorie burners, teens walking to get ice cream and to get away from their parents. Two blocks away (across a sort of “divider road” because it doesn’t come to a T-stop like my neighborhood roads do) is a neighborhood that was built out starting in the 1920s. Not a sidewalk in sight. But all the power lines are buried and there are lots of trees. Their side commands higher prices — but perhaps ours would if there were somewhere to walk to…. We are surrounded by “commuter roads” that are filled with run-the-light-I’m-in-a-hurry traffic (or Oh I’m sorry I didn’t see you there I was checking my phone traffic)

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