Transit-served neighborhoods are rising in value -- sometimes skyrocketing —- when they have good urbanism and are perceived as safe, according to an article in the April-May issue of Better! Cities & Towns. But many are losing value and depopulating — even in neighborhoods with well-connected streets that would be highly walkable given more and better destinations. A study by the American Public Transit Association and the National Association of Realtors showed that more than 60 percent of Chicago's 388 "transit sheds" underperformed the region as a whole, for example. The Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix, Boston, and San Francisco regions were also studied. Languishing transit-served neighborhoods could be made more appealing through placemaking, street trees, and more destinations —- like grocery stores. If Arthur C. Nelson is right in his 2013 book Reshaping Metropolitan America, then transit sheds, particularly those in the central city and inner-ring suburbs, should gain value through 2030. That means that the transit sheds that lost value from 2006-2011 — and where real estate is a bargain today — could be investment opportunities in the years to come.
Yet many transit sheds in poorer parts of cities and in auto-oriented suburbs underperformed their regions from 2006 to 2011. Neighborhoods served by transit are divided between those that are prospering and those that are not.
Development near transit stations is often compact and intense, but it offers another critical opportunity -- placemaking. Civic places and parks can give a transit-oriented neighborhood identity and fulfill an important need in compact, urban neighborhoods. It can also raise values all around. After residents in Silver Spring, Maryland, called for more open space, Montgomery County, Maryland, planners wrote guidelines. A developer of a 27-acre project a short distance from the Metro stop has followed through (see image above). The redevelopment of a suburban superblock was designed around a series of public spaces by Bing Thom Architects and Sasaki Associates. The public spaces will add to the distinct urban center of Downtown Silver Spring. Read the detailed report in the current print issue of Better! Cities & Towns.