Report: Greater Boston Needs More ‘Walkable Urban Places’

Report: Greater Boston Needs More ‘Walkable Urban Places’

WBUR News
3/11/2015

Report: Greater Boston Needs More ‘Walkable Urban Places’

 

Boston often ranks as one of the most walkable big cities in the country. And the convenience and ease of being able to walk to work or school or get to shops or restaurants by foot is something that attracts many people, particularly millennials, to the metro area.

But a new report finds these types of “walkable urban places” make up only 5.6 percent of land in a broadly defined Greater Boston — and there is a growing demand for more.

In a report released Wednesday, researchers at The George Washington University found real estate development in Greater Boston is becoming increasingly geared toward walkable urban areas instead of driving-focused areas typically found in suburbs. These walkable urban places, or “walkUPs,” are areas where almost everything is within walking distance. They are often high-density areas with mixed-use development, as well as easy access to multiple modes of public transit.

The small percentage of these “walkUPs” creates a premium on the land, which means higher rents and housing costs, according to the report.

“It’s time to get rid of the city versus suburb,” GW professor and report co-author Chris Leinberger said in a phone interview. “Yes, a lot of your walkable urban places are in the city of Boston, but the future growth of these places are going to be in the suburbs as we urbanize the suburbs — and not just Cambridge and not just Somerville.”

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