How Urban Design Affects Property Values

CNU Austin recently had a presentation by Andrew Burleson from Houston on How Urban Design Affects Property Values. The urban realm between specific buildings and transportation conduits were compared with each other and related to property values. Examples of Houston “patterns” and streetscapes were analyzed. Houses with shaded walks were shown to have more value than houses nearby on streets without sidewalks. The speakers theory is that more people a property attracts, the more valuable it is. Also an argument was made that developments with good streetscapes tend to encourage other developments with good streetscapes. Buildings need to address the street to contribute to a quality urban environment. Interesting take-aways for me included over-entitlements can work against urbanism, first ring neighborhoods are usually more walkable than the downtown they surround, and growth should be managed. These issues were shown by Houston tower projects large enough to suck up demand and thus leave nearby properties under or undeveloped. Adjacent owners held out for high prices, but without the demand, the properties usually remained surface parking. These Houston towers, often without consideration for streetscape, where shown to have street facades primarily dedicated to structured parking and building services. Mid-rise developments were shown to lend themselves well to supporting an active urban realm.