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Walkable communities

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Uptown Columbus, Inc recently held an event where Christopher Leinberger (NPR story here) spoke about planning for the future by planning for communities that are more 'walkable', supplemented by local transit, trains, trolleys, express buses and traditional route buses. He talked about the future of suburbia as areas of declining value. In Columbus, indeed, Harris County (the most popular Columbus suburb for so long) was the first suburb to suffer slow and even non-existent new home sales after gas hit $2.50/gal. New home prices have fallen about 25% over the last two years.

How are planners in area communities reacting to these new trends? Intense mixed use development has been going on in primary markets for over a decade and in secondary markets in the recent years. Not so much in tertiary markets and the real estate bust has pretty much stopped the trend's downstream momentum. Columbus has had opportunities to do some visionary planning in urban development in the public sector. CSU's efforts in downtown Columbus are laudable. The Housing Authority's Ashley Station, not so much. Though a huge improvement over the former Peabody Apts, the replacement 1980's suburban garden-style apartments are out of place in the urban area and a missed opportunity to move intown development forward.

So how walkable is your address. Go to WalkScore and find out the walkability of any address. There, you can also read-up on walkable communities and even join an e-mail list for Congress letting them know to support legislation that helps communities become more walkable.

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