Could Houston Become a 15-Minute City?

Imagine Houston as a 15-minute city, where everything a person needs is just a quick walk from their house or apartment. The average U.S. household spends 16% of its income on transportation costs — in fact, transportation is the second-highest expense behind housing. So, it’s easy to see how much time, energy and expense Houstonians would save if everything was closer to home.

The idea behind 15-minute cities has been around for decades, but it gained renewed global interest in 2019 when Paris began re-evaluating its city with urban walkability in mind. That’s fine for a dense urban city like Paris, but could it work in a sprawling city like Houston? The Kinder Institute at Rice University has shown there’s plenty of demand for it here.

The key to such a move is “hyperproximity” — everything from restaurants, to schools, to banks, health care and grocery stores should be within a 15-minute walk from home. To make this happen, commercial real estate and mixed-use development come together to create neighborhoods that attract residents and visitors alike.

For commercial real estate owners, the 15-minute city presents an opportunity to reimagine vacant spaces and to find new ways to draw businesses and services to a neighborhood. Is your property in a neighborhood that lacks restaurants or cultural spaces? You may be the perfect catalyst to fill the void. If you want to see what’s already available near your property, enter the address in this 15-minute city app.

Working with tenants and residents, property owners are in a perfect position to help create walkable neighborhoods. As a bonus, 15-minute cities are in high demand, and Houstonians are willing to pay an 89% rent premium to live in walkable urban neighborhoods, according to that Kinder survey.

Even though Houston is spread out, there’s no reason every neighborhood in the city can’t be its own self-contained 15-minute community. Now, building our own Eiffel Tower might be a bit tougher to get done.

Belvoir’s commercial real estate experts stay on top of the latest industry news and ideas. If you’d like to know more about 15-minute city planning, feel free to reach out! We can help you figure out how your commercial real estate may fit into this model.

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