There’s Life On The Corner

South Burlington VT
February 23rd, 2011

Remember the old song “Down On The Corner” by Creedence Clearwater Revival? Well, it just might be we’re heading Back to the Future.

There is a shift in Vermont real estate trends that is now underway.

An article this week in the Burlington Free Press by Matt Sutkoski entitled, “Data Shows Vermonters Moving Back Towards The City”, in which the author made several interesting conclusions. Mr. Sutkoski writes there is “evidence that policy, planning tools, economic realities and people’s housing choices are beginning to shift the focus of growth toward Vermont’s village centers and downtowns”.

Sally Dames, a resident of South Burlington VT and co-founder of What’s Alive Inside Productions, an organization focused on what makes life more wonderful and rich via community productions at The Flynn Theater in downtown Burlington VT, refers affectionately to “life on the corner” often in her reflections about her ‘hood. Ms. Dames calls them them “her C’s. Community, Collaboration, Convenience and Connection”. She indicated she moved with her two daughters in recent years from living in the “boonies of Charlotte and Monkton” as she puts it into a neighborhood where she can walk, ride her bike, have access to employment, mass transit, goods and services.

I, too, admit that in the past 8 months I made a decision to move from Charlotte to South Burlington for many of the same reasons cited by Ms. Dames. Yet, to carry it one step further, I felt a driving inner force to reduce my carbon footprint. Instead of climbing in my car to drive everywhere now I can bike or walk to the grocery store, the pharmacy, the bank, the post office, doctors, bookstore, restaurants, coffee shop, restaurants, music, a short hop to the airport and the list goes on and on… In addition, with my children moving on in their lives, I wanted to be closer to the “action”.

Organizations like SmartGrowthVermont believe that for “Vermont to grow and thrive we need to carefully integrate growth, environmental protection and economic opportunities into our local planning framework. This will require the participation of citizens, local and state officials, developers, business leaders and non-profit organizations. Our future depends on careful analysis, dialogue, cooperation, and leadership”. In the Free Press article, John Ewing, a founder and board member of Smart Growth Vermont says “there has been a very definite trend in people’s attitudes favoring compact development and a willingness to live there”.

Websites like WalkScore allow you to type in an address to get its walkability score rated from 1-100 with 100 being the best score for walking to amenities. Here’s what they say makes a neighborhood walkable:

“A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a center, whether it’s a main street or a public space.

People: Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.

Mixed income, mixed use: Affordable housing located near businesses.

Parks and public space: Plenty of public places to gather and play.

Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street, parking lots are relegated to the back.

Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.

Complete streets: Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.”

Walkscore cites these four areas that offer surprising benefits to the environment, our health, our finances, and our communities:

“Environment: Cars are a leading cause of climate change. Your feet are zero-pollution transportation machines.

Health: The average resident of a walkable neighborhood weighs 7 pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood.

Finances: One point of Walk Score is worth up to $3,000 of value for your property.

Communities: Studies show that for every 10 minutes a person spends in a daily car commute, time spent in community activities falls by 10%.”

You can, of course, come up with many more reasons why this trend makes sense and why these trends are pointing in a refreshing new direction.

If you are considering listing your home for sale or buying a home or condominium in or near Burlington Vermont Vermont Estate or Chittenden County Real Estate, please give me a call or email me to discuss the market and your options. I would be delighted to assist you. I can be reached on my direct line at 802.238.5256 or email me at [email protected]

As always, please feel free to post any thoughts and comments here below.

Armed with solid numbers, buyers and sellers alike can manage their expectations and the current realities of our local market.