The Power of Place…And the Ensuing Challenge
The power of place is now palpable — “place” has become a commodity. Places are being sold, branded, advertised, consumed. Their “sellers” are competing for resources – educated residents, businesses, “talent,” and investment — worldwide. Place managers, planning agencies, investors, funders, businesses, and developers lack effective, cost efficient methods that demystify the process of identifying, differentiating, and creating the quality places people want. And today, that’s increasingly places that allow them to conveniently, safely, and pleasurably walk to everyday needs and amenities.
At a time when place quality is no longer an intangible luxury but a critical factor in ensuring place prosperity, place “sellers” must address “customer” – individuals and businesses – demand or risk losing both investment and human capital.
The Solution: State of Place™
In the past, designing the built environment was generally considered to be more of an “art” than a “science.” But State of Place™ has now not only quantified walkability – a critical component of what customers are increasingly demanding of places — but also its economic impact. State of Place™ is an empirically-based decision-making tool that makes it easier and more cost effective to identify quality places and make them better – from a triple bottom line (people, planet, and profit) perspective.
What is the “bottom line” of State of Place™?
For increasingly cash-strapped and budget-constrained municipalities, businesses, and organizations, it is imperative to get the most “bang for your buck.” State of Place™ highlights the most cost-efficient, effective way to 1) improve a neighborhood’s walkability – based on its assets and needs – and 2) enhance economic development. The State of Place™ Index gives stakeholders the power to identify the highest impact leverage points to improve a place’s triple bottom line!
How does State of Place™ work?
The State of Place™ Index quantifies walkability based on ten urban design dimensions empirically linked to walking. We quantify the “touch, see, and feel” of walkability, collecting on-the-ground data on over 280 built environment features related to quality of place. We measure features that impact how people feel about and behave in a neighborhood: we include the “nuts and bolts” of streets like sidewalks, crosswalks, street trees and land uses, but also those “intangibles” that really matter like street facades, benches, landscaping, signage, etc
The State of Place™ Index is positively linked to significant economic premiums, including office and retail rents, retail revenues, and residential for-sale and rental values as revealed in a Brookings Institution study, “Walk this Way.”
Why use State of Place™
State of Place™ categorizes places based on its overall place quality and walkability. Tied to economic performance, State of Place™ serves as a “credit” rating for neighborhoods, whereby investors and lenders can make more informed decisions that correspond to their risk levels and underwriting standards. The State of Place™ Index can also serve as a branding and place differentiation tool.
The State of Place™ Index not only measures how walkable a neighborhood is, it also identifies why it is or is not walkable, by identifying its built environment assets and needs. Planning agencies, advocacy groups, and place managers can create a customized plan to enhance walkability and place quality based on what their community needs most.
But what makes State of Place™ particularly unique is the ability it lends its users to not only tailor their investment strategies, but also maximize the value of their investment dollars. Each urban design sub-index that makes up the State of Place™ index has a varying impact on the bottom line — that is, each is individually tied to specific price premiums. So customers can prioritize investments based on their State of Place™ diagnosis (a place’s urban design strengths and weaknesses) and the predicted impact of allocating resources toward a specific set of urban design interventions. Click here for an example of how this can work for your community!