St. Louis has long been considered a commuter city with its dispersed geography that required people to drive. But thanks to improvement in the local metro rail and the number of advocates who wish for walkable urban development, St. Louis ranks 16th out of the 30 when it comes “walkable” U.S. cities.
The 2019 Foot Traffic Ahead report from the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis (CRUEA) at the George Washington University School of Business, in partnership with Cushman & Wakefield, Smart Growth America/LOCUS and Yardi Matrix, has named St. Louis the No. 16 city for walkable urbanism. The report ranks the 30 largest metros in the United States, based on the percentage of office, retail and rental multifamily space in walkable urban places. The report found that in the 30 largest metros there are 761 “regionally significant” walkable urban places, or WalkUPs. Ten of those WalkUPs are located in the St. Louis metro area.
St. Louis ranks in the “Upper-Middle Future Growth Momentum for Walkable Urbanism” group alongside eight other transitioning markets. Five cities, including St. Louis, are investing in the development of their rail transit. The investment should play a key role in St. Louis’s future ranking, as most WalkUPs in the study are served by rail transit. Of these investments, a recently completed $15 million Metrolink station has finally linked the Cortex Innovation District via the public transit system. Looking ahead, the Chouteau Greenway proposal is expected to be the first elevated pathway of its kind in St. Louis, extending from the St. Louis Arch to Forest Park and connecting newly developed commercial hubs across the urban core, the result of which will lead to increased walkability and economic potential.
St. Louis also ranks highly in terms of walkability growth. Between 2010 and 2018 St. Louis was the 9th fastest market in terms of walkable urban market share growth, according to the reports’ Market Share Shift Index (MSSI). The MSSI measures the walkable urban market share increase or decrease of net absorption of real estate for a given time period, compared to market share at the beginning of that time period (the base year). For this analysis, CRUEA measured market share increase from 2010 through 2018 against the base year 2010 occupancy (January 1, 2010), near the start of the current real estate cycle.