ULI promotes the development of vibrant, competitive metropolitan areas by sharing best practices and strengthening relationships among businesses, the government, and community stakeholders. Active Transportation and Real Estate: The Next Frontier, a report released by the ULI Building Healthy Places Initiative in FY 2016, describes the real estate industry’s response to a global trend: an increase in the number of people using physically active modes of transportation such as walking and cycling to get from one place to another.
Active Transportation highlights ten innovative development projects around the world that capitalize on proximity to pedestrian networks and cycling routes, as well as five recent regional investments in active transportation infrastructure. These “trail-oriented communities” leverage private investment to enhance and extend the life of publicly financed active transportation infrastructure and respond to the growing demand for car-free lifestyles.
Teams behind each development project featured in Active Transportation made strategic investments in amenities that encourage residents and tenants to use nearby bike paths, bike lanes, sidewalks, and walking trails. These amenities include bike storage, wide hallways and elevators, and bike share or rentals; some developments even offer on-site mechanics and repair facilities. The report notes that modest investments in bike- and pedestrian-oriented amenities have led to improved returns and enhanced asset values. Several projects have benefited from premiums on rental rates, expedited lease-ups, and market differentiation.
“In today’s challenging operating environment, it is vital to inject unique attributes to differentiate our developments to increasingly discerning and demanding buyers,” says interviewee Danny Low, chief operating officer and executive director of Heeton Holdings, codeveloper of Westwood Residences, an executive condominium project in Singapore.
The report points out that developers of active transportation–oriented communities are enhancing existing public infrastructure systems. Through public/private partnerships, they are making direct investments in upgrades to pedestrian and cycling corridors in addition to paying for bike-sharing and other public amenities. For example: a portion of parking fees in Atlanta’s Ponce City Market, a mixed-use redevelopment project adjacent to the Atlanta BeltLine, helps fund the 22-mile network of parks, trails, and transit facilities.
By promoting physical activity and alternatives to the automobile, trail-oriented developments are also helping cities save on health care costs and meet targets for reducing carbon emissions. It is estimated that Copenhagen’s Cycle Superhighway will lead to a $60 million reduction in health care costs, an annual reduction of 856 tons of carbon dioxide, and 1.4 million fewer car trips, according to the report.
Active Transportation received an enthusiastic response from ULI members and the media. More than 2,300 copies of the report were downloaded over a four-month period, and a members-only webinar with developers showcased in the report drew a higher-than-industry-average attendance, with 54 percent of registrants participating.
The report was covered widely in the local business press as well as in the Washington Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and was the subject of a popular concurrent session at the 2016 ULI Spring Meeting in Philadelphia. Active Transportation coauthor Ed McMahon, ULI senior resident fellow and the Charles E. Fraser chair for sustainable development, traveled to several District Councils to share the report’s findings with members who were eager to learn how trail-oriented development can create value in their cities.
Learn more about and download a copy of Active Transportation and Real Estate: The Next Frontier. Learn more about the ULI Building Healthy Places Initiative.