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Old 05-29-2012, 07:38 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly NoVA and Phila
9,756 posts, read 15,659,659 times
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I think we have to control for schools and proximity to jobs. If those are equal, are people willing to pay more to be walkable to amenities and/or transit? Let's not compare Arlington to Ashburn, it's apples to oranges. How about "walkable" Herndon to "non-walkable" Herndon? Or walkable Arlington to non-walkable Arlington? Or walkable Warrenton to non-walkable Warrenton?
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:49 PM
 
1,403 posts, read 2,136,539 times
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It seems to be me that some of the posts in this thread can be summarized as following: "Rich lobbyist pigs in Great Falls, why won't you like what I like???!!!" Assuming moral superiority for oneself for a certain lifestyle choice and then raging at those vast multitudes who do not ape that choice does seem unhinged, to put mildly.

More seriously, I think some people misunderstand the role of price, especially dollar per square foot, as a measure (or signifier) of both value and desirability among the buyers.

The fact that "walkable" core urban areas fetch higher price per square foot than "non-walkable" suburban or exurban area does not mean that all or even a majority on demand side (home buyers) value the former over the latter. It simply means that the relative demand over supply is higher with the former than with the latter.

For example, it could very well be that only a small minority of buyers desire "walkable," but if only a very small minority of housing stock is "walkable" at certain size or market segment at the same time, high average price will obtain even if a large majority of buyers at large does not desire such housing at all.

In other words, there may be an issue of scalability. High demand within a certain market niche does not mean the supply can be simply scaled up and expect to generate additional demand beyond a certain limit.
Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
I think we have to control for schools and proximity to jobs. If those are equal, are people willing to pay more to be walkable to amenities and/or transit? Let's not compare Arlington to Ashburn, it's apples to oranges. How about "walkable" Herndon to "non-walkable" Herndon? Or walkable Arlington to non-walkable Arlington? Or walkable Warrenton to non-walkable Warrenton?
This makes for a more interesting question for me.

Notwithstanding the shrill and outdated screechings of those who would divide this region into a single "core" (presumably more walkable) area around DC and "the rest" (presumably non-walkable), my observation is that the Northern Virginia area is fracturing into multiple clusters with their own core and peripheral areas.

I no longer live in Loudoun County, but when I first moved there some years back, a large majority of my neighbors worked in DC or near DC. By the time I moved out of Loudoun County, a large majority of my neighbors were employed in Loudoun County. Increasingly, many residents of outer suburban and exurban areas do not access DC or its nearby environs. And contrary to the older paradigm of "urban core = diverse amenities, suburbs = nothing but residental areas," many of the previously peripheral areas in this region have or are developing their own core areas with shopping and other amenities. Tyler Cowen at George Mason, a behavioral economist and foodie blogger extraordinaire, has an outstanding explanation of why ethnic dining is now cheaper and more authentic in suburban and exurban strip malls than in traditional high-traffic urban areas, a trend that is particularly pronounced in NoVA.

In any case, itt seems to me that what is increasingly in demand from the average family in this area - parents and 2 to 3 kids plus dog(s) - is both a bit of walkability and space where much of day-to-day life revolves around short driving (work, school, etc.) but where some recreational walking can be done frequently (walking dogs, shopping, dining, bicycling and so on), all the while having some land - "yard space" - on which dogs and kids can play. So, my sense is that while there is a perceptible movement toward "walkable" areas, it is not all or even in the majority toward urban core walkable areas.

Just as a segment of "post-moderns" (singles or DINKs) has become hostile to the stereotyped suburban and exurban lifestyle ("SUVs! Eeek!"), there is a considerable number of families, especially those with higher number of children and pets, who consider the stereotypical urban lifestyle (at almost any price or amenity level) inimical to raising the said children and pets.

I think WaPo recently had an article about DC having been pretty successful in attracting high income singles, but is now being confronted with the question of what happens to such people when some of them inevitably get married and have kids. The thrust of the article was that, even for those who were determined to raise their families in gentrified DC, it was tough going.

In that regard, this is a pretty old story. What's changed now is that the "grown up" folks who move to suburbs tend to bring their tastes with them from the urban areas, which in in turn pulls in supply of amenities previously associated with urban areas. Moreover, the immigration patterns and demographics have changed significantly -- many immigrants now skip the initial urban phase altogether and set up shop in the 'burbs.
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