Homebuyers in the American West are increasingly choosing walkable neighborhoods, according to a a new study from The Sonoran Institute.

The report, titled “Real Estate Reset in the American West: Suburbs Stabilize While Compact, Walkable Communities Thrive,” shows citizens are willing to pay more for neighborhoods that don’t require a car.

From the Sonoran Institute:

“What we are seeing is a more varied market that reflects the needs and wants of people at different stages in life, economic circumstances and lifestyle preferences,” said Clark Anderson, The Sonoran Institute’s Colorado Program Director based in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. “More and more people want convenience, they want to walk, and they want neighborhoods with character. In a lot of towns these qualities are hard to find outside of a few small, historic neighborhoods. So it’s sort of an untapped opportunity.”

In Boise, residents were willing to pay a premium not only for space in the historic Hyde Park district, a neighborhood which developed naturally in the early 1900s, but also in Bown Crossing in East Boise, a mixed-use development built in the post-World War II era. Zach Kyle with the Idaho Statesman spoke with Bryant Forrester, a researcher of housing trends for Homeland Realty in Boise. Forrester said his research indicates buyers do indeed pay more for walkable communities.

“We will definitely see more of this,” Forrester told the Statesman. “Greenfield (previously undeveloped property) development is stretching resources. The taxpayer has to pay quite a bit more for fire, police and highways.”

Laoshan Velodrome, Beijing

Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit
Laoshan Velodrome, Beijing

In their new book, photographer Jon Pack and filmmaker Gary Hustwit analyze the life and death of the vast villages and stadiums constructed to accommodate spectators and athletes participating in the Olympics. The Olympic City features hundreds of photos snapped between 2008 and 2013 in 13 cities—in Moscow, Sarajevo, Athens and elsewhere—all places at “the center of the world  for a brief two weeks,” as Pack puts it.

“In certain cities so much has changed since the Games—places like Athens and Sarajevo—and it was important to me to try to photograph the effects of time on these places. On the other hand, there are certain cities where not much has changed—Lake Placid was a charming, sleepy little spot before the Games, and it still is today—and that fascinated me as well,” Pack told The Atlantic’s Steven Heller.

In the case of Beijing, a host of facilities with costs in the billions of dollars have struggled to find life after the 2008 Olympics came and went.

A report from Pacific Standard looks at the issue of public investment in sporting venues a different way. Author Aaron Gordon provides an unflinching perspective on American cities’ love affair with big stadiums, many of which receive massive amounts of public funding for their construction. Government officials hoping to attract major league sports teams  invest millions in sports facilities, but economists claim real growth fails to materialize from those investments.

In the past 20 years, 101 new sports facilities have opened in the United States, according to Gordon. Gordon writes:

Economists have long known stadiums to be poor public investments. Most of the jobs created by stadium-building projects are either temporary, low-paying, or out-of-state contracting jobs—none of which contribute greatly to the local economy.

He also references Judith Grant Long, Harvard University Graduate School of Design associate professor of Urban Planning, and her new book, Public/Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities. The book claims economists have underestimated the true cost of major sporting facilities, putting the average pricetag at $259 million per facility in operation during the 2010 season.

Upward economic mobility in the United States varies from region to region.

The New York Times
Upward economic mobility in the United States varies from region to region.

A new study, profiled this week by the New York Times‘ David Leonhardt, examines income mobility in the United States. Researchers compared anonymous earnings records from metropolitan areas across the country, painting a picture of which regions offer upward economic mobility—and which don’t.

Workers in the Southeast and Midwest are less likely to climb the income ladder, according to the study, with low odds of earning a higher income in cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus. Cities with high rates of upward economic mobility included New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh and Seattle. The result is a colorful map depicting a visualization of the best and worst places to get ahead.

“Where you grow up matters. There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty,” Nathaniel Hendren, one of the study’s authors and a Harvard University economist told the New York Times.

A new short from the urban-minded folks at Streetfilms offers an introduction to Strong Towns, the non-profit founded by Chuck Marohn in 2009. In this film, Marohn outlines the elements of his message to build cities differently, a key message behind his Strong Towns movement. Catch the short clip below:

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The views and opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of Boise State University or the School of Public Service.