MyNew Place, Walk Score Form Partnership to Boost Walkable Communities
By Eugene Gilligan, Contributing Editor
San Francisco–Apartment dwellers have typically focused on factors such as the length of their commute to work and the quality of schools when choosing which community to live in. But, a community’s walkability also seems to be playing a larger role in the decision-making process.
MyNewPlace, an apartment and home rentals Web site, and Walk Score, a provider of walkability measurement of neighborhoods, have formed a partnership that allows the two sites to share content, links and services. The collaboration, formed in mid-January, established a search widget that enables prospective renters to search the walkabilty of neighborhoods nationwide, and find apartments within the desired location.
The partnership has gone “really, really well,” says Jason Meresman, director of product for MyNewPlace. Users who answered surveys on the MyNewPlace website asked for more information about a community’s walkability, which was a key driver to the partnership, Meresman says.
There are numerous reasons why apartment dwellers are increasingly focused on a community’s walkability, according to Meresman. “There is definitely a health aspect to it,” Meresman says. In addition, a strong “eco-friendly” angle is also in play. Also, an increased interest in a more lively shopping experience plays a part, he says. “When people go to a hardware store, many want to know the names of the merchants and the people who shop there,” Meresman says, an experience they are not likely to have at a big box discount hardware outlet.
Surveys have shown that the greater demand for walkable neighborhoods cuts across all age groups, from families who want to be able to walk to parks and recreation options, to senior citizens who want to leave their cars behind, he says.
Where potential renters may have previously had to use a map to determine how long a commute might take, today’s apartment dwellers have much more sophisticated tools at their disposal. For instance, MyNew Place introduced an iphone application last year, where a prospective renter can quickly find rental options within a given mileage radius.