Walkability to most describes the ability to walk from one point to another with ease. In Atlanta this means redeveloping the habit of looking both ways even when strolling down a sidewalk; if there even is a sidewalk.
In an urban environment, walkability is a metric, often used in real estate assessments. It measures the levels of ease and access to education, parks, and economic activity. In other words, am I able to walk out my door, grab the latest issue of Modern Luxury, a cup of Joe, and enjoy some people watching within 10 minutes. The more walkable an area is drives its desirability for those seeking to live in a city and partake in all benefits that the inflated taxes afford you. In Atlanta, higher walkability is a luxury: which translates to expensive. Anyone that’s watched Sex and the City or a classic Woody Allen film, my favorite is Midnight in Paris, probably envisions high walkability to be a quick stroll dropping the kids off at school, on the way back stopping into a market to get salmon, lox, bagels and coffee, hanging out on the front stoop, or meeting friends at the cozy restaurant and bar around the corner. Atlanta's scene is a bit more complicated. It's our opinion that Atlanta is an elongated, suburban version of a dense US city making it different amongst cities like New York, Boston, and Rome. And as an architect and interior designer, we take on many Atlanta projects that have the goals of a traditional residential home one might picture in a classic suburban town, yet has high walkability. Yes, you can have it all in Atlanta! Residents in Atlanta are either living in an:
Apartment and condominium - residents live near each other and share walls, floors, and ceilings with their neighbors
or independently standing home - and may also have a pool.
You can have either of these located in very traditional neighborhood settings such as Ansley Park, Peachtree Hills, and Sherwood Forrest. Or, either can exist in a more urban environment, organized in a matrix grid of streets mixed with mixed-use businesses and organizations such as Mid-town, Downtown, Inman Park, and central Buckhead.
Most of our clients are looking to build new homes that require .5 acres or more in a traditional residential setting or neighborhood, or they are looking to be in mixed-use areas with high walkability.
Traditional neighborhoods tend to be more self-contained and modular, creating natural barriers to stores, shops, etc., and making them less walkable. For those wanting a more urban experience, traditional neighborhoods may not be ideal. Currently, we have a client that wants to build a home in Atlanta and the two criteria driving our search are:
ability to walk less than five minutes to get a cup of coffee and dinner
and a 50-foot wide lot to fit a 5K square foot home with a pool.
One would think that these criteria are at odds with each other, and although not quickly found, it's possible to have the suburban ideal with high walkability in Atlanta.