Walkability: A Key Metro Metric

English: Pedestrians prohibited sign in Israel


Matching buyer and seller takes information.  There are almost as many types of facts about commercial properties and their environs as there are locations in which to do business.  One result is that there are thousands of possible strategies toward marketing of properties that combine and present relevant metrics to sellers and buyers.  The trick, as always is to find the combination that presents the most important metrics about a location with the right timing to hit the important part of the conversation.

The conversation about a commercial property presents a set of moving targets.  The sales cycle takes time and work and every deal is different.  But some aspects of deals aren’t so different.  Every building has a purpose for people. And people need freedom to get to that building and to get to things that surround it.   One way to express accessibility in cities is a metric called walkability.

A key concept in sustainable urban design (and the #1 sorely missing feature of most suburban and exurban properties), walkability measures how easy it is for people to reach the and experience the property’s surrounding area.  Less important for industrial than for office and multifamily, walkability is a discussion that is worth having because it addresses the potential deal exclusively from the perspective of the people using the property.  It’s where projections of usage and traffic patterns tell stories that help to more concretely visualize the completed deal in terms of what it allows a whole bunch of people to do over and over.  A discussion about people is an attractive one to have: in a very real way, providing facility to people is why we are here.  Fail to provide that facility, and ultimately, profit and performance are lost.

How To Discuss Walkability

Auditing an area’s walkability is easier to do with a set of fixed questions about the area.  One such checklist produced by the US Department of Transportation is the Walkability Checklist.  It’s a set of tasks and ratings for various aspects of walkability with an all-important scoring mechanism included.  Using ratings is a great way to benchmark offerings against each other and highlight favorable conditions – and on the buy side, conditions that need improvement.

Also: evaluating metro areas for walkability is the role of WalkScore.com, a site that more or less goes through a version of this checklist and publishes the walkablity scores, providing an easy benchmark for national searches.

Another site dedicated to producing walkability measurements is Maponics, which includes a set of criteria not found in WalkScore.

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