/ Europe

Making the Case for Well-Planned, Well-Designed Density

Insights from ULI members in Europe informed a report, Supporting Smart Urban Development: Successful Investing in Density, which aimed to understand the characteristics of “good density” and quantify the relationship among density, investor returns, and carbon emissions. The expertise shared by members added to ULI’s ongoing research on density – specifically the important role that well-planned, well-designed density plays in the long-term resilience of cities in both developed and developing countries. The report was jointly published by ULI Europe and the Coalition for Urban Transitions. 

The research comprises an analysis of existing literature and several datasets, including urban-extent density, business services, financial services, innovation, tourism, built-up-area density, walkability ratio, green environment, open-space ratio, unemployment rates, and crime rates, as well as a quantitative analysis of 63 cities globally. The conclusion: cities with dense development that have been designed to promote a high quality of life are more likely to be resilient and prosperous in the long term, while also providing sustainable returns for investors, than cities without “good density.”

An example of “good density” in downtown Berlin, the host city for the 2018 ULI Europe Conference.

  • “The Urban Land Institute released a report suggesting there is a positive correlation between what it calls “good density” and benefits for urban residents, governments, and investors. The report defines “good density” as development that includes mixed-use buildings, public green spaces and strong alternatives to car use.”

    – The Star Vancouver, June 19, 2018

“Density encompasses more than just the number of people living or working within a defined area,” said ULI Member Simon Chinn, a senior analyst for Grosvenor in London, a ULI Sustaining Member and one of the project partners. “It has to account for key characteristics of the urban form such as clustering patterns, mixed-use planning, amenity offerings, and transport infrastructure, which collectively play a role in creating the right kind of density for cities.” 

One of the key findings of the report was that denser, more compact cities are associated with higher returns for office real estate investment. The report notes that investors should consider not only building-specific elements when conducting due diligence, but also city- and neighborhood-specific elements related to density when deciding where and when to invest.  

Use Knowledge Finder to access Supporting Smart Urban Development: Successful Investing in Density and other ULI research.

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