Portland Real Estate Insider: “Heat Map” of Walkable Neighborhoods

The City of Portland is in the midst of detailing extensive plans for the development of the city over the next 25 years, known as the Portland Plan. The project – headed by the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability – is focused on energy use, Portland real estate development, community input, and neighborhood resources, and one of the primary goals of the plan is to increase walkability of the majority of Portland neighborhoods.  The goal of the 20-minute Neighborhood is to provide walkable, fast access to necessities like groceries and coffee (a necessity in Portland!) to everyone in Portland. As part of this concept, the Portland Plan committee released a “heat map” of Portland (get a PDF of the heat map here), showing areas of easiest accessibility via walking and biking. The “hottest” areas, shown in orange, yellow, and white, represent neighborhoods with walkable access from residential real estate to commercial services like grocery stores, restaurants, and local small businesses. These walkable areas, like much of Southeast Portland and a good percentage of North Portland real estate, are characterized by quality sidewalks, high street connectivity and gridded streets, and generally accessible topography.

The goal of the map is to pinpoint areas that could use zoning reform and real estate development to increase walkability, but its also a useful tool to see how much of Portland is already incredibly walk-friendly. North Portland neighborhoods like the Kenton Neighborhoo, Mississippi District, and the St. Johns Neighborhood are all highly accessible, as well as the vast majority of Southeast Portland areas, including the Brentwood Darlington Neighborhood, Buckman Neighborhood, Clinton District, Foster Powell Neighborhood, Hawthorne District, Ladd’s Addition, Laurelhurst Neighborhood, Montavilla Neighborhood, Mt. Tabor Neighborhood, and Richmond Neighborhood. The map is a great tool for Portland Real Estate agents and people looking to buy a home in Portland, because it gives a great overview of the best neighborhoods, the location of parks and industrial areas throughout town, and a general feel for the way the city has developed over the past several decades.

The city of Portland hopes to ensure that 90% of Portland residents have easy walk and bike access to daily needs by 2030.

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(Map courtesy of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability)

Trends in national real estate are showing that home buyers are increasingly interested in walkability, in many cases choosing smaller, more expensive, older houses with better access to amenities in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. In addition to good schools, low crime rates, and big yards, today’s home buyers are paying more and more attention to the proximity of stores, coffee shops, theaters, and parks. Traffic congestion and long commutes have become a fact of life for many Americans living in urban areas, increasing the attractiveness of a home situated in a place that would encourage them to use their walking shoes more than their engines.Walking to buy groceries or go out to dinner saves on oil prices, and may be attractive to people who are worried about the sustainability of our oil markets. Urban experts say it’s also an issue of demographics: Baby boomers are reaching retirement age and facing too-large empty nests, and their grown children are buying their first homes; neither group wants large, modern lots in remote places where little is going on, and exciting, walkable neighborhoods are becoming increasingly attractive.

If you’re familiar with real estate listings in Portland and other areas where walkability ranks high among home buyers wishes, you’ll no doubt have seen the “Walk Score” that ranks homes according to the number of amenities within walking distance. Created by Seattle software company Front Seat in 2007, the Walk Score site includes an interactive map, where users can input an address and get a score. Walk Score uses an algorithm to calculate the distance from any address to amenities like restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters and public transportation. If you’re interested in selling your home in Portland or the metro area, there’s a good chance looking up your walk score will increase your success and attract buyers, as Portland ranks in the top ten of America’s most walkable cities, and 45% of Portland residents have a Walk Score of 70 or above.

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