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Catalytic development: (Re)creating walkable urban places

May 2018

This paper takes an in-depth look at six case studies to describe the process of catalytic development, a new model of investment that over the past decade has had remarkable success in creating such walkable communities. Catalytic development focuses on areas abandoned as a result of deindustrialization and auto-oriented development, in some cases recycling the very properties cleared or left vacant by mid-20th century urban “renewal” programs. Catalytic development incorporates many urban design best practices—granularity, incrementalism, and mixing of uses, scales, and people—and can address difficult urban challenges while delivering long-term economic returns to both the public and private sectors.

The Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Rock Ventures on Detroit

The George Washington University, in conjunction with peer-review professors at Wayne State, Michigan State University, and The University of Michigan, conducted an economic and fiscal impact study of Rock Ventures and the Family of Companies (RVFOC) on the State of Michigan and the City of Detroit.

The Walkup Wake Up Call: New York

April 2017

Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros

In April we released our WalkUp Wake-Up Call: Metro New York, our walkability study of America’s largest metropolitan region. We partnered with the Regional Plan Association (RPA) on this study, and the RPA is planning to use many of the study’s findings as they present its Fourth Regional Plan later this year. This study – which follows reports for the DC, Atlanta, Boston and Detroit metro areas – was the first whereby CREUA not only evaluated the economic impact of walkable urban communities but also its social equity implications. The study was released in three separate venues throughout the New York area – Manhattan, Long Island and Northern New Jersey.

Bethesda Metro Park Study

October 2016

The report explores the feasibility and benefits of creating a managed park plaza space at the Bethesda Metro Station in Montgomery County, MD. We explore detailed case studies of the costs and benefits of several comparable park projects including Dilworth Park in Philadelphia, PA; Director Park in Portland, OR; and Fountain Square in Cincinnati, OH.

Foot Traffic Ahead

June 2016

Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros

The end of sprawl is in sight. The nation’s largest metropolitan areas are focusing on building walkable urban development. For perhaps the first time in 60 years, walkable urban places (WalkUPs) in all 30 of the largest metros are gaining market share over their drivable sub-urban competition—and showing substantially higher rental premiums. This research shows that metros with the highest levels of walkable urbanism are also the most educated and wealthy (as measured by GDP per capita)—and, surprisingly, the most socially equitable

Foot Traffic Ahead

June 2014

Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros

Walkable real estate development projects and places are on the rise nationwide, but certain metro regions are progressing faster than others, according to a new report released today by the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at George Washington University School of Business in conjunction with LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, a program of Smart Growth America. The report, Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros, ranks the country’s top 30 metropolitan areas based on the amount of commercial development in Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs). The study finds higher education levels and one-third higher GDP per capita in high-ranking cities. Additionally, a series of forward-looking metrics examine the future development patterns in these metro areas to predict how walkable or how sprawling their future development is likely to be.

The Walkup Wake Up Call: Michigan Metros

This research focuses on seven metropolitan areas in Michigan: Detroit/Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids/Muskegon/Holland, Lansing, Jackson, Kalamazoo/Battle Creek, Saginaw/Bay City/Midland and Flint.

The Walkup Wake Up Call: Boston

March 2015

Metropolitan Boston is leading the country toward a walkable urban future

For decades, real estate practitioners, observers and scholars studying land use have looked through an urban-versus-suburban lens. It is not unlike the classic social science joke about the tipsy guest who drops his keys at the front door as he leaves a party. While searching under a streetlight at the curb, he is asked, “Why aren’t you looking where you lost the keys?” He replies, “This is where the light is.” This new research defines—in an entirely new way—the form and function of all land use in Metropolitan Boston’s 3,119 square miles. This study then ranks performance for all land in the region based on two criteria: economics and social equity. The economic performance metric measures both the real estate valuations, as a proxy for GDP (a GDP measure does not exist below the metropolitan level) and the tax assessment that drives most local government tax revenues. The social equity performance metric measures access to economic opportunity and affordability in terms of both housing and transportation costs.

The Walkup Wake Up Call: Atlanta

October 2012

The Poster Child of Sprawl Builds a Walkable Urban Future

Urban development in the second half of the 20th century gave rise to the sprawling geographies, connected by vast highway systems, that now characterize most U.S. metropolitan areas. Few metro areas are more sprawling than Atlanta, but things are changing quickly. Leinberger and Austin’s research has found a surprising and overwhelming recent reemergence of walkable urban development in metro Atlanta; in fact, it now accounts for the majority of the metro area’s development. In this report, the authors identify and rank Atlanta’s established and up-and-coming WalkUPs on their economic performance and social equity. Their insights will help developers, real estate professionals, and urban planners determine the most productive places to invest capital and the initiatives most likely to stimulate walkable urban development.

The Walkup Wake Up Call: Washington, D.C.

September 2012

The Nation’s Capital As a National Model for Walkable Urban Places

The next real estate cycle will be defined by the rise of Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs) and the fall of sprawl development. Metropolitan Washington, D.C., leads the nation in this trend. In this report, Christopher Leinberger defines D.C. metro’s WalkUPs, ranks their economic performance and social equity, and discusses findings and implications for developers and society as a whole.

Why American Companies Are Moving Downtown

Hundreds of companies across the United States are moving to and investing in walkable downtown locations. This study examines the characteristics, motives and preferences of companies that have either relocated, opened new offices or expanded in walkable downtowns between 2010 and 2015.

Walk this Way: The Economic Promise of Walkable Places in Metropolitan Washington, D.C.

September 2012

The findings of this study offer useful insights for a diverse set of interests. Lenders, for example, should find cause to integrate walkability into their underwriting standards. Developers and investors should consider walkability when assessing prospects for the region and acquiring property. Local and regional planning agencies should incorporate assessments of walkability into their strategic economic development plans and eliminate barriers to walkable development. Finally, private foundations and government agencies that provide funding to further sustainability practices should consider walkability (especially as it relates to social equity) when allocating funds and incorporate such measures into their accountability standards.