There’s a new buzzword in real estate circles: “Walkability.”
Simply put, more and more buyers are seeking out homes that allow them to walk to restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, wine bars, bank branches … and maybe even their jobs.
I’m sure the green movement (and $3.50 gas) has played a role, as well as a desire to merge walking for exercise into life’s more mundane activities as we all try to get more done in what seems like less time every day.
But after a 50-year love affair with the automobile and the shopping mall, maybe many Americans just like the idea of living in a real neighborhood where they not only know their neighbors, but are even likely to run into them while waiting in line for a latte.
Listing agents have taken to touting well-placed-for-hoofing locations in marketing materials. And online real estate marketplace Zillow.com has taken to assigning each home a “Walk Score,” a trademarked term it has applied to its own process of measuring how easy it is to walk from a neighborhood home to a variety of community amenities.
San Jose has a reputation as a suburban kind of town, but it nonetheless sports a number of neighborhoods and neighboring towns that offer a fairly high walkability quotient.
One of the most underrated of those, I believe, is the Rose Garden, a neighborhood of charming older homes just west of downtown San Jose. While Los Gatos, Willow Glen and a few other such neighborhoods with their own “Main Street” have long been known as walkable enclaves, the Rose Garden has come into its own over the past few years as its main commercial artery — The Alameda — has sprouted dozens of trendy new restaurants and retail shops of all kinds. At the other end of the neighborhood, Bascom Avenue also offers a variety of amenities for walkers.
In addition, the Rose Garden sports its own unique added attraction for hockey fans: It’s a brisk 20-30 minute walk from most neighborhood homes to HP Pavilion, a.k.a. “The Shark Tank,” home of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.
This means if you’ve been too busy to make it to the gym, you can come home from work, walk up to Tee Nee Thai or any number of other great eateries for dinner, continue on to the arena (where you’ll save $10-$15 on parking), catch an exciting hockey game, then walk back (perhaps stopping for a glass of your favorite pinot at Wine Affairs) and be home feeling fairly invigorated well before midnight (or not!)
Now that’s what I call “walkability.”