Brookings Institute researchers Christopher Leinberger and Mariela Alfonzo have created a five-tiered scale of walkability for metropolitan neighborhoods and analyzed just how much more people will pay for walkability:
Looking at the Washington, D.C., region, they’ve calculated that moving from a Level 1 to a Level 2 walkable neighborhood (from a non-walkable place to a slightly less non-walkable one), you will wind up paying $301.76 a month more in rent for a similar home. If you’re really moving up in the world – from, say, that car-dependent exurb to a Georgetown flat – that means the premium to live in a walkable urban community may run you as much as $1,500 a month.
For each step up this walkablity ladder (which was constructed using both Walk Score and the Irvine Minnesota Inventory of urban design dimensions linked to walkability), a store is likely to boost its retail sales by 80 percent, in part thanks to all this sidewalk traffic. The value of your home is likely to go up by $81.54 per square foot. Average rent per square foot of office space, meanwhile, goes up $8.88. (These are all, by the way, correlations, not causal explanations, although Leinberger expects that urban researchers will prove that link eventually.)