Phoenix is one of the least-walkable cities in America -- no real surprise there.
But researchers from the George Washington University School of Business have found that the potential for Phoenix to become more walkable is actually moderately high.
First, the researchers defined what they call "WalkUPs" in every city, which are "regionally significant, walkable urban places."
Phoenix has four such areas, whereas one of the most-walkable cities, San Francisco, has 57.
Phoenix's most-walkable areas, as determined by walkscore.com:
The researchers took into account the share of office and retail space located in these "WalkUps," which put Washington D.C. first, at 43 percent, and Phoenix and Orlando tied for last among the 30 largest cities, at 5 percent.
However, the GWU researchers created a model to try to predict how likely a city's future development is to be more walkable. Basically, they looked at whether these walkable areas are gaining occupied office space compared to suburban areas. Phoenix was in the category of cities that have lost out to suburban areas for market share, but have increased their absorption nonetheless. That put Phoenix among the cities with "moderate potential for future walkable urbanism."
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"Famously known as a sprawling metro area, Phoenix's new light rail serving Uptown, downtown Phoenix, and Tempe--and successful revitalization efforts in downtown and Tempe, home of ASU--warrant its moderate ranking," the report says. "Like Tampa, this ranking is primarily based on high walkable urban office absorption over a low base in the current real-estate cycle; only time will tell if these trends endure."
The researchers say these cities with moderate potential for an increase in walkability are likely to see that increase in city center areas, and not an urbanizing of suburbs.
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