Pontiac earns silver in Walkable Urban Place report; seven Oakland County communities listed

Pontiac has been deemed a Silver Walkable Urban Place (or WalkUP) in a recently-released report focusing on the walkability of various Michigan downtowns.

Pontiac has been deemed a Silver Walkable Urban Place (or WalkUP) in a recently-released report focusing on the walkability of various Michigan downtowns.

“Many of these WalkUPs, particularly the downtowns, have seen noticeable development and investment, particularly in the last five years,” the report states of Silver WalkUPs.

“However, much of this development received public assistance of some kind. As defined, Silver WalkUPs have not yet achieved critical mass, defined as not requiring government assistance or subsidy for new development. But they have a trajectory that suggests they will continue to develop into higher performing walkable urban areas.”

The report was released by LOCUS, which is a program of Smart Growth America, and the George Washington University School of Business, in partnership with Michigan State University. It concludes that a trend away from suburbs and back toward walkable urban places is taking shape.

“There is significant pent-up demand for walkable urbanism in Michigan, evident by the rent and price premiums for walkable real estate that have emerged over the last several years,” a press release states.

Areas of Oakland County joining downtown Pontiac in the category include Berkley and the downtown areas of Farmington, Ferndale, Rochester. New Center, Port Huron. West Dearborn, and three areas of Midtown were also in the category.

“Silver WalkUPs have the greatest value creation potential for investors and developers,” the report states.

“They may still have an image as being economically risky … (but) they usually have examples of recent developments that demonstrate the potential for success. These places are likely to be improved by more development and place management and produce the relatively highest return on investment since acquisition costs are generally lower.”

Birmingham led the way in Oakland County, joining Main Street in Ann Arbor as the only two areas to earn a Platinum WalkUP designation.

Royal Oak was deemed a Gold WalkUP downtown. Downtowns in Detroit, Northville and Plymouth also qualified for that category.

WalkUPs were ranked by economic performance, which was measured by average rents, as well as social equity performance, measured by accessibility, opportunity and affordability for residents.

Downtown Pontiac is “quite affordable but scores low on the accessibility/opportunity metrics,” the report states.

The area joins Eastpointe, Hamtramck and downtowns in Lincoln Park, Mt. Clemens, Port Huron, Wayne and Ypsilanti in having affordable housing but needing jobs and development.

Six percent of Pontiac is walkable, the report states, with the rest falling into the drivable suburban category. Eight percent of the city’s population lives in walkable areas, and 21 percent of jobs in the city are located there.

The report defines a walkable urban area as a form of development that has much higher density, multiple real estate products close to one another and had multiple modes of transportation to get people and goods to that area.


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