Everybody is looking for a healthier, safer, and happier lifestyle. Commercial real estate’s answer to these desires is helping to develop what is known as walkable communities. Cities in Central Texas, in particular Austin, San Antonio, and New Braunfels have districts that are ripe to be made, or enhanced, into walkable communities, thereby meeting consumer demand. Let’s dive into what makes a community walkable and why people desire to live there.
What is a Walkable Community and Why People Want to Live There
What Makes a Community Walkable?
A walkable community is more than just a place you can walk around; there are several criteria that define a walkable community. In fact, there are very clearly laid out requirements for communities looking to increase their walkable communities (source). Some of these requirements that community real estate developers need to keep in mind when building a walkable community are:
- Pedestrians are the highest priority throughout the community.
- Roads are specifically designed to accommodate pedestrians, with their safety and comfort in mind.
- Speed limits are set accordingly to further protect pedestrian activity.
- In some instances, vehicles are prohibited entirely to encourage other modes of travel.
While enjoying increased popularity, walkable communities are not a new concept. Originally they formed in response to people’s needs and interests, and were developed organically rather than planned by civic or business leaders. Walkable communities typically see a mix of commercial real estate, multifamily developments, and mixed-use buildings, thereby creating a sustainable community as well.
Why People Want to Live in Walkable Communities
Homebuyers today are increasingly seeking an ideal mix of walkability with all the modern conveniences. As residential real estate investors work to meet this demand, so to much commercial real estate developers work to deliver appropriate commercial, retail, multi-use, recreational, and entertainment facilities.
Walkable Communities Are Safer
Walkable communities are designed with pedestrians in mind, which makes these neighborhoods inherently safer. A pedestrian-friendly sidewalk and street design results in reduced traffic speeds, encourages residents to be more active outside their homes, and increases a neighborhood engagement that is believed to reduce crime.
Not only are walkable communities safe from automobile and pedestrian accidents, but crime rates are typically low in these communities as well. How a community is designed can actually minimize opportunities for crime. Because these communities are designed with pedestrian safety in mind, sidewalks, parks, and public spaces are well-lit at night, thereby making criminals less likely to strike these areas. With increased pedestrian activity, neighborhoods create safety in numbers, heightened awareness, and familiarity that help to build a stronger sense of community.
Walkable Communities Promote Health
Numerous studies have proven the positive health impacts walkable communities have on the residents living therein. Adding to this, because crime rates are low, residents are more likely to walk more thereby increasing their overall health and lowing their BMI. After the year we experienced during the COVID-19 Pandemic, residents in walkable communities will be happy to know that studies have shown walkable neighborhoods have a positive impact on mental health. Walking regularly has been proven to lower high blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and diabetes. With all these health benefits, it’s no wonder commercial real estate investors are looking to help build walkable communities.
Walkable Communities Create a Sense of Community
Researchers have found that when people have a stronger sense of community, they tend to feel more connected. Walking helps heighten imaginative openness to new social and political possibilities, which then energizes more socialization. Walking is important but when the walking is in locations with more activity, it has positive impacts on the residents. Walk communities also tend to encourage more social interaction among residents, creating closer, strong relationships. According to a study done by Harvard, the quality of relationships in one’s life are the greatest factor influencing one’s happiness.
Casey Development, Ltd: Commercial Real Estate Developers in New Braunfels, Texas
With more and more people looking to build happier and healthier lifestyles, walkable communities are rising in demand. Casey Development, Ltd. is poised to help commercial real estate investors meet this demand through our combined decades worth of experience. Contact us today to learn more about how Casey Development, Ltd. can help develop your next commercial real estate project.