The changing nature of commercial development markets, shifting demographics, future economic development opportunities, and a stronger preference for walkable urban environments form the foundation of the Bridge Street District Vision. A summary of the key points identified by the national experts that took part in the Bridge Street Corridor Study speaker series is provided below.
Changing Nature of Residential Market Demand
- The housing market increasingly demands choices in compact, walkable, mixed-use settings. Baby Boomers and their adult children, the Millennials, increasingly desire compact, walkable urban settings. (Laurie Volk)
- Singles, couples, and families each comprise about one-third of demand in the U.S. housing market. The aging Baby Boomers and the Millennials have dramatically changed their housing preferences. (Laurie Volk)
- Rental housing is an important component of housing demand. Rental housing represents more than 50% of current and projected future of housing demand. Rental housing in the Bridge Street District should be the “first-in” projects to create a critical mass of people to support commercial developments. (Laurie Volk)
Changing Nature of Commercial Market Demand
- Small businesses will increasingly drive business and employment growth. Small businesses in creative and information-based fields, rather than traditional corporate office parks, are the prime office opportunity and will be the primary driver of economic development and employment growth over the next several decades. (Sarah Woodworth)
- Many small businesses are demanding “cool” office space. “Cool space” is defined as office space within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and neighborhoods, and features flexible, creative architecture that expresses a unique sense of identity and a distinctive address. Cities with “cool” office space will be more competitive in attracting high-tech and creative firms who increasingly search for the walkable, mixed-use environments that in turn help them attract highly qualified employees who desire interesting and flexible places to work. (Sarah Woodworth)
- Walkable neighborhoods attract a talented workforce. Today, young people between the ages of 25 and 34 (the most mobile segment of the “talented” workforce) are 33% more likely than the average population to want to live in or near a downtown, and “creative workers,” or those whose jobs involve design, technology, marketing, and other similar fields, are 53% more likely to want to live in walkable urban places. (Carol Coletta)
- Employers seek walkable neighborhoods. Increasingly, jobs follow talent. Today’s young professional workforce tends to first choose a place to live based on lifestyle preferences, which are increasingly walkable, bikeable, urban spaces, offering a wide variety of housing, employment, transit, and entertainment choices—and then they start the job hunt. Employers are increasingly responding to this trend by locating in cities that can meet these criteria. (Carol Coletta)
Stronger Preferences for Walkable Development
- Walkable urbanism creates significant value. Mixed-use development in walkable urban settings commands a compelling value premium—35% more than conventional single-use development in drivable suburban settings, and up to 50% more for upper middle-income communities like Dublin. (Chris Leinberger)
- Walkability adds value to housing. Front Seat Software’s WalkScore.com is a method of measuring the walkabilty of any given property. Studies have indicated that each additional point earned on WalkScore.com can add $600 to $3,000 to residential home values. (Carol Coletta)
- Additional transportation choices expand economic choices and spending capacity. Growing energy costs will impose increasing financial burdens on households that must depend on automobile-based transportation systems. Even one fewer car (or no car) gains on average $150,000 in mortgage capacity. Expanding transit choices is essential for capturing the full long-term value of walkable environments. Transit-ready districts add value and additional development capacity. (Chris Leinberger)
- In walkable urban environments, more is more. Urban areas have more people, more activities, and more development which, in turn, creates more value. In traditional suburban environments, separated land uses and auto-oriented development means more is less, since fewer people, activities, and less development erode value. Walkable urbanism therefore significantly expands economic and community development potential. (Chris Leinberger)
- Expanded choices are what make walkable, mixed-use environments appealing. The expanded range of housing, jobs, transportation, and shopping choices that are characteristic of walkable, mixed-use settings are the prime reason for their appeal, and are critical to creating exciting, authentic, and memorable places for people rather than cars. (David Dixon)
- Successful walkable places are consciously planned for people. Planning for exceptional places for people requires thorough, careful attention to design, high quality details, and activities that relate in scale to people who are walking, rather than those driving. (David Dixon)
- Conscious attention design quality and programming is vital to reinforcing sense of community. A diverse society needs to be celebrated and bridging diversity requires a proactive approach in planning and helps ensure the city’s long-term vitality. (David Dixon)
- Walkable places advance sustainability. Compact, walkable, mixed-use development is a powerful tool in advancing sustainability in economic, environmental, and social senses alike. This is critical to ensuring local, regional, and global prosperity. (David Dixon)
- Compact, walkable development promotes healthy communities. Creating environments and destinations that regularly invites people to walk encourages healthier lifestyles. (David Dixon)
Opportunities for the Bridge Street District
- The Bridge Street District is uniquely positioned to become a model for walkable urban development in Central Ohio. Communities are increasingly demanding a new approach to the built environment that emphasizes the creation of memorable, high-quality, authentic places—a new version of the American dream based on “walkable urbanism” rather than “drivable suburbanism.” Metropolitan Columbus should be able to support two to three more significant walkable urban nodes based on this model, and the Bridge Street District is favorably positioned to become a successful example. (Chris Leinberger)
- There is significant market demand for a much broader variety of housing types in the Bridge Street District over the next 5–7 years. There is enough demand to create or expand multiple neighborhoods or districts of multi-family housing, attached and detached single-family housing, and a range of rental and for-sale housing units. (Laurie Volk
- The Bridge Street District study area can support a major retail/entertainment center. The Bridge Street District is strategically located for a major new retail and entertainment district with housing and other uses skillfully mixed into a walkable environment, helping to recapture the area’s significant spending potential that currently flows to more experiential retail environments in other parts of metropolitan Columbus. (Sarah Woodworth)
Implementation of the Bridge Street District Vision will depend on market-based development opportunities. The residential, office, retail, and hotel market-demand analyses conducted by Laurie Volk and Sarah Woodworth for the Bridge Street District in late 2009 found residential projects in demand for the coming 5 to 7 years, and the office, retail, and hotel in demand for the coming 10 years. The key findings are summarized below, and take into account the economic downturn of 2008-2012. As described below, the market downturn will delay, but not diminish, projected demand.
Base Market Analysis
Zimmerman/Volk Associates analyzed housing market potential in the study area based on long-term demographic trends, which are key predictors of demand in emerging markets for walkable mixed-use neighborhoods. The analysis assumed that the area will develop with walkable, mixed-use districts; absent this assumption, demand forecasts would be significantly lower. The analysis determined that:
• There is market opportunity for approximately 1,500 new housing units over the next 5 to 7 years.
• These units could be absorbed at a rate of approximately 223 units per year (not including turnover).
• A varied mix of unit types, sizes and prices would be needed to generate the strongest market response.
Projected Long-Term Market-Based Demand
Demographic trends will drive longer term projections at a similar rate 10 to 15 years and beyond because the number of households with children will fall as low as 14% of all households over the next 20 years. Zimmerman/Volk has found in similar communities that housing demand in walkable environments tends to accelerate over time.
Likewise, Christopher Leinberger has found that the success of dense, walkable, mixed-use centers only adds to development demand for adjacent areas as values rise and high-quality walkable urban development are increasingly demanded. In effect, success creates success in dense, high-quality, walkable mixed-use environments such as those that will be part of the Bridge Street District. This, in turn, will play a major role in driving subsequent demand for additional housing. Without competing dense, mixed-use nodes in Dublin outside of the Bridge Street District, the long-term prospects are favorable for growth in housing demand within the study area. Of course, this can be substantially enhanced by increasing transit availability.
Base Market Analysis
W-ZHA analyzed the demand for office space in the study area, also assuming the creation of walkable, mixed-use districts. The analysis identified the following opportunities for the Bridge Street District in the near- to mid-term:
• Primary opportunities rely on the attraction of small office tenants occupying 5,000 square feet or less, rather than large corporate tenants, for which Dublin faces tougher competition from other suburbs. Dublin will continue to pursue larger office opportunities, but these opportunities are expected to be far more limited.
• Small creative businesses are particularly attracted to “cool space” in walkable, mixed-use districts and contribute more to job growth nationally than large firms. Encouraging these “creative” businesses is very consistent with Dublin’s entrepreneurial-focused economic development strategy.
• Key criteria for “cool” office space include locations within convenient walking distance of a variety of unique choices for housing, dining, shopping, retail and other amenities, such as Internet cafes and coffee shops where an increasing amount of creative work actually happens. “Cool” spaces are flexible, creative, loft-like space, with unique identities signified by distinctive buildings and details that are typically uncharacteristic of traditional office parks.
• There is an estimated demand for 400,000 to 500,000 square feet of this specific type of small, “cool” office space in the Bridge Street District over the next 10 years. This can occur in multitenant commercial buildings of up to 50,000 square feet, which mixes well with ground-floor retail or upper-floor residential and enables the productive use of smaller infill sites for office space. This trend is already visible in Historic Dublin.
• The market analysis anticipates demand for approximately 100,000 square feet of additional large-floorplate office space over the next 10 years, primarily at locations with excellent access to and visibility from I-270. This opportunity will require leveraging the skill of developers and the City in differentiating these spaces from competing communities in the region, and the proximity to exciting, walkable, mixed-use environments could provide a meaningful advantage.
Projected Long-Term Market-Based Demand
When the Bridge Street District becomes an amenity-rich, walkable, urban district that is particularly attractive to small businesses over the next decade, market demand for small multitenant office space could intensify in the following decade as the area gains recognition as the “go-to” place for creative businesses, drawn to the area for its memorable environment and highly-skilled workforce. This trend also has the potential to increase demand for larger office space as small businesses continue to grow.
Shifting demographic trends and preferences have already begun to generate increased demand for the type of housing that the market analysis recommends for the Bridge Street District—a variety of multiple-and single-family choices close to walkable, mixed-use environments. A stressed economic environment has in some ways reinforced demand for housing in walkable, mixed-use environments, as more households are becoming increasingly conscious of the growing transportation and upkeep costs associated with single-family detached homes in traditional suburban neighborhoods. The local financial market will typically adjust to this reality, with a stronger emphasis on funding multiple-family rental housing in walkable environments.
Base Market Analysis
W-ZHA studied the market for retail in the study area, finding that Dublin’s retail market area (the ten-minute driving radius around the Bridge Street District) has the region’s highest retail spending potential—$2 billion—based on average annual household income in the entire region. However, Dublin and the immediate vicinity capture only a small portion of this potential.
• Dublin has the opportunity to recapture more local spending by creating at least one mixed-use district in the Bridge Street District that can serve as a regional center for destination retail and complementary uses. This district could readily support between 300,000 and 450,000 square feet of retail, cinema, restaurant, and related services, as well as substantial residential and office components, satisfying demand for approximately 10 years.
• The success of this district would depend on excellent visibility, access from I-270 and, more importantly, creation of a critical mass of mixed retail, housing, and office uses that from the start distinguish the Bridge Street District from other retail offerings in the region.
• The quality and character of a retail and entertainment district must respond to the unique demographics of the 10-minute-drive market area, in which more than 70% of households have no children at home and 50% of households are under age 55 without children. Retail offerings—in terms of choices, quality, and setting—must specifically appeal to these demographics to fully achieve the benefits to quality of life and economic development.
Projected long-term market-based demand
Retail demand will grow at substantially lower rates over the long term because a substantial part of the market-demand potential in the coming decade involves recapturing a retail market that is currently satisfied elsewhere in the region. Incremental growth of residential and office space in the Bridge Street District will form the customer base required for retail opportunities.
The office, retail, and hotel market demand analyses all take into account for market downturns. Although these sectors lack the same level of pent-up demand that exists in the housing market, the significant level of unmet demand for small-floorplate, “cool” office space and retail can be accommodated in high-quality, walkable environments. Responding to these market opportunities in high-quality, well-planned settings will allow and encourage Dublin to remain unique and competitive in the region, regardless of the state of the larger economy.
W-ZHA projected some demand for limited-service and other hotel types by 2020. Demand is expected to be greatest near the I-270 interchanges at both ends of the Bridge Street District. This assumes a demand for approximately 250,000 square feet of hotel space that would be enhanced significantly by the creation of a mixed-use walkable environment. Between 2020 and 2030 W-ZHA’s analysis projects demand for an additional 250,000 square feet of hotel space, driven mainly by the incremental growth of office space in the region.
Civic buildings provide a valuable sense of community identity and a stronger perception of permanence in a highly visible built form. Prominent civic buildings offer heightened community value in the Bridge Street District resulting from accessibility, historical importance and complementary businesses and housing. A civic presence further demonstrates a commitment to the District’s goals. Civic buildings provide other important services, such as leisure activities, and provide important support for nearby retail and office uses and as a source of employment for employees living within a short, walkable distance.
Long Term Market-Based Development Capacity
Understanding how the market demand opportunities relate to the recent economic recession was an important component of the market analysis for the Bridge Street District. Historical patterns suggest that periodic real estate recessions occur every 7 to 10 years. The market analyses for the Bridge Street District, however, are oriented to longer-term demand trends that are expected to outlive nearer-term market fluctuations. In all cases, they specifically focus on the kinds of development that could be attracted to walkable environments in Dublin as growing and higher-value opportunities than are provided by conventional suburban development markets.
The Vision for the Bridge Street District looked ahead to a longer 20-year time frame and studied a category of projected market-based development opportunities extending beyond the near-term projection periods. While the much-longer-term market opportunities cannot by definition be confirmed at this time, they represent reasonable scenarios of demand continuing the patterns that will drive nearer-term demand. Development capacity based on market demand.
The figures in the table below reflect both the market demand described above and an analysis of physical capacity in the study area. The figures reflect how much development can occur based on market demand. The land use category “flexible residential or small office” has inherent and intentional flexibility to accommodate residential and/or small office uses, depending on ultimate market opportunity in a given location. Development opportunity is expressed as a range that varies up to 25% above or below a predicted average.
The columns headed “Additional development capacity” represent further development that could physically fit in the study area but cannot be supported by current or projected market demand over the next 20 years. It represents a very desirable reserve potential, either for additional development growth over a longer period or for higher-than-predicted demand within the 20-year vision. It also reflects some flexibility over where new development is located in the study area over the next 20 years. While the Vision deliberately focuses growth around specific areas, it also recognizes the practical benefit of accommodating development opportunities in a variety of locations as long as it supports the Vision Principles. To the extent that better transit services are provided and that development is made as compact and walkable as possible, opportunities for development value and magnitude will increase.