The Economic Impact of Community and Placemaking

June 8, 2021

The best multifamily developments consider the surrounding environment and incorporate elements that truly make a whole community in addition to the building itself. They are not only a place to live, but a place to explore, spend time outdoors, connect with other people, work, shop and more. Their developers have put time and intention into creating mixed uses and a sense of place, and the developments are successful because of it.

Placemaking strengthens the connection between people and the places they share. It is “more than just promoting better urban design, placemaking facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.”1 By incorporating diverse inputs and taking a community-driven approach, multifamily developments can create and incorporate quality public spaces that improve the overall health and happiness of the residents who live there.

But in addition to improving the quality of life for people who live in and use the place, placemaking drives economic value. By building a walkable place with a distinguishable identity and assets like parks, trails, shops and other gathering places, developers can drive higher real estate values, higher occupancy rates, increased tourism, and more jobs. In fact, people who live in car-dependent neighborhoods (which often lack real placemaking assets) are less trusting and feel lower levels of attachment to their communities than people who live in walkable neighborhoods,2 and properties close to parks and with tree-lined streets have approximately 17% higher land value than properties without.3

Public transit options also play an important role in placemaking. The “Creating 21st Century Communities” Report found that residential property values increase as much as 150% when they are located near bus or transit stops.4 The mixed land uses and diverse range of activities of Transit-Oriented-Developments (TODs) have been shown to stimulate economic activity.

Mixed-use projects that blend placemaking elements offer more amenities to their residents and create a sense of place that directly correlates to the value of the development. They attract more residents, residents live there longer, and they draw in businesses and other commercial renters. Because they are “whole” places, they are not only less risky for the developer but are set up better for long-term success than a more traditional, car-reliant development.

1 “What is Placemaking?” Project for Public Spaces.
2 Charles Montgomery, “The Secrets of the World’s Happiest Cities,” The Guardian.

3 “The Value of Public Space,” Cabe Space.

4 “Creating 21st Century Communities.” Public Sector Consultants.