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The Unlikely Relationship Between Bicycles and Real Estate in Atlanta
By Will Fassinger, Redfin Agent in Atlanta
The city of Atlanta is buzzing about anything and everything related to bicycling. Local blogs are reporting on bike lanes and developments in Atlanta, people are downloading apps to log their routes and get tips about challenging terrain, there’s rumor of a bike share program, multiple blogs are devoted to biking around the city and how to look good while doing so, and Atlantans are coming out in droves to show their support of enjoying bike-friendly space. More than 82,000 citizens participated in the latest Atlanta Streets Alive event. According to American Community Survey data, between 2000 and 2009, the rate of bike commuting in Atlanta rose a whopping 386 percent.
There’s been talk of increasing public transportation and improving walkability within Atlanta for a while and advocates now have the support of grants from the local, state, and federal level as well as local nonprofits such as the PATH Foundation. Mayor Kasim Reed has his sights set on transforming car-loving Atlanta into a top cycling city by 2016, putting Atlanta’s bicycle infrastructure on par with other well-known bike-loving cities, such as Portland and Minneapolis.
The cultural shift driving the movement to create a walkable, bikeable urban environment in Atlanta is the same one that’s behind the wheel of the rebounding housing market in Intown Atlanta. The city of Atlanta is a growing hub for business and technology. More and more top-tier enterprises—everyone from AT&T to Peak 10 is setting up shop in Atlanta, creating demand for a highly-skilled workforce. These companies are recruiting in Atlanta and all across the country and are hiring candidates in the prime of their careers who are single or have young families and want to live in a city that supports their active, urban lifestyles. This next generation of homeowners is less interested in suburban living and want to have parks, bike lanes and coffee shops just a few steps from their front door. The transition back to city living isn’t unique to Atlanta, but because of our city’s auto-centric past, we’re feeling the growing pains of the transformation the most.
The good news is that new bicycle infrastructure is contributing to the revitalization of neighborhoods across the city and will likely contribute to rising home values in the near and long term future. Neighborhoods like the Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park, which are now two of the hottest neighborhoods in Atlanta in terms of demand and growth, were largely overlooked and avoided 5-10 years ago. When property values in these neighborhoods rise, the benefits stretch beyond the wallets of homeowners in those zip codes. Homeowners in surrounding areas will see, over time, the value of their homes increase as well. As restaurants, shops and salons are built out and walkability increases, the demand for homes in the area will rise. Property descriptions in Atlanta’s MLS are already starting to contain information about proximity to the BeltLine and I predict this, just as someone would list the number of bedrooms and square footage, to be commonplace in the next three to five years.
Bicycle infrastructure is essentially creating a domino effect in Intown Atlanta. The first push was citizen demand, followed by the extensive Beltline developments. Just as the local real estate market is now impacted by new bicycle infrastructure, so is the local business community. Once people start flocking to a neighborhood, so do the local restaurateurs and small business owners. And then cultural and civic organizations are not far behind. By no means am I saying that creating bike paths is the only way for Atlanta to meet the changing needs of its citizens and stay competitive on a national scale, but it is a good place to start.
Will Fassinger is a real estate agent with Redfin. He and his family live in the East Lake area.