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April 14, 2017

Vibrant downtowns are vital for Long Island’s future

New research finds that Long Island municipalities must create walkable urban spaces or be left behind economically. The study, titled “The WalkUP Wake-up Call: New York,” was produced by George Washington University’s Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis and looked at New York City and its surrounding suburbs.

rechler.jpgThe study was presented at a conference held by Renaissance Downtowns.  Scott Rechler, CEO and Chairman of RXR Realty and developer of Garvies Point delivered welcoming remarks.

One of its most important findings was that Long Island – and other New York suburbs – must work to create more urbanized downtowns to hold onto its younger population and bolster its tax base.

Though Long Island and other New York-area suburbs have made some progress in building walkable urban developments in select downtowns, the study found that enough isn’t being done here, mostly because of pushback from homeowners who fear urbanization and oppose denser, multifamily projects.

“You’re definitely on the right track, but there is still residual NIMBY, backward-looking concerns,” says Christopher Leinberger, research professor of urban real estate at GWU’s School of Business and a co-author of the study. “There’s a lot of education that needs to be done. If you don’t have vital walkable urban places the economy is going someplace else and you’re going to be left high and dry. Your children will leave, because they want to live in walkable urban places, so they’re heading to Queens or Manhattan or Philadelphia or Washington or Boston.”

90 percent of the area’s walkable urban places are located in New York City, just 1.3 percent is here on Long Island. Leinberger said fears that urbanism brings declining real estate values are unfounded.

“What we’ve seen throughout the country and in New York is that single-family housing within walking distance of great urbanism has anywhere from a 40 to 100 percent price per-square-foot premium,” Leinberger said. “You basically have the best of two worlds. You can live in a suburban neighborhood and walk to great urbanism with restaurants, the train station, and that gets priced into housing and housing goes even higher.”

“There have been some projects that have been delivered and are under construction,” Leinberger acknowledged. “The issue is, there is such pent-up demand, this is going to put a foundation under your economy for the next generation. You’ve got a lot of room to run, basically. It is crucial that you put that foundation under your economy because if you don’t, the knowledge economy, which is driving our general economy, is going to go someplace else. And your kids are going to go someplace else, because they want to be in a walkable urban place. And that’s where the jobs are.”

Read the full story on LIBN http://libn.com/2017/04/11/invigorating-walks/

Read the full report here, http://walkups.org/metrony/