Foot loose: Denver No. 9 for walkability

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Foot loose Denver No. 9 for walkability.

Foot Traffic ahead ranks 30 metropolitan areas.

Light rail will make Denver suburban areas even more walkable, foot study says.

Foot

Pedestrians enjoy the 16th Street Mall last summer. Photo credit: Gehl Studio and Mark Englert.

Denver is clearly foot loose.

Maybe not like in the 1984 classic movie Footloose starring dance crazy Kevin Bacon, of course.

Rather, Denver made the top 10 list of one of the most walkable metropolitan areas in the U.S., according to a report released on Tuesday.

Denver ranked No. 9 in the “Foot Traffic Ahead” report released by George Washington University’s Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis.

Denver is taking strides to become even a more walkable city.

“The report captures the influence that smart land use decisions, and not just transportation investments alone, can have on Denver’s goals for mobility and community health,” according to Nancy Kuhn, a spokeswoman for the Public Works Department for Denver.

At the request of Denver Real Estate Watch, Kuhn asked a mobility and transportation manager at the city review the Foot Traffic Ahead report.

“Denver aspires to increase its walkability rating by focusing on both aspects together —land use and transportation—and will work toward this goal through its Denveright planning process that is kicking off right now,” according to Kuhn.

Denveright, is a community-driven planning process that challenges Denver residents to shape how the city evolves in four key areas: land use, mobility, parks and recreational resources.

“We’re synching up our community engagement and analysis of issues across all four plan to make for smarter, more efficient planning and integrated outcomes,” Kuhn said.

The city also is updating Blueprint Denver, the land and transportation guideline plan for growth in the city. The update of Blueprint Denver will look at land use options to support walkable places and the new Denver Moves: Pedestrian and Trails plan will identify needed infrastructure investments to make complete pedestrian connections, she said.

New York City was ranked No. 1, followed by Washington, D.C. and Boston in the national analysis.

The research by Christopher B. Leinberger and Michael Rodriguez focused on walkable urban places, which they call WalkUps.

WalkUps are areas where there is a least 1.4 million square feet of office space and/or 340,000 square feet of retail space.

They also looked at what they call a Fair Share Index, which measures the increase or decrease of net absorption of real estate from 2010 through 2015.

A FSI of more than 1 indicates an area is gaining market share over its 2010 base.

“While metro Denver’s impressive FSI of 2.56 points to future walkable urbanism market share gains, the WalkUp rental premium of only 35 percent has remained flat over the past six years,” according to the report.

It also noted that most of the walkable urban development in the Denver metro area are within the downtown core area.

Foot

Last summer’s Meet In the Street program brought a lot of pedestrians to the 16th Street Mall. Photo credit: Gehl Studio, Mark Englert.

However, that will change as more FasTrack light rail stations open in suburban areas, the foot traffic report notes.

“The expansion of the light rail system will certainly help urbanize the suburbs in the years to come,” according to the report.

And although it is not on a light rail line, it singled out Belmar, the mixed-use community in Lakewood, as a good example of what the report called a Redeveloped Drivable “sub-urban” area

These are areas that once strip commercial center or regional malls that have been “urbanized,” according to the report.

The 22-block Belmar, the de facto downtown for Lakewood, replaced the Villa Italia Mall.

Denver-based Continuum Partners bought the mall site in 1994 and redeveloped it.

Last year, Starwood paid about $300 million for Belmar, whose majority owner was a subsidiary of the Southern Ute Indian Trib.

Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com. DenverRealEstateWatch.com is sponsored by 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.

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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for GlobeSt.com, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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