by Sarah Kirsch
Executive Director, ULI Atlanta
I started my professional career in real estate and land use 20 years ago. The firm I was working for, RCLCO, was located in Lenox Plaza, the midrise building located between Lenox Towers and what was then Dante’s Down the Hatch. I was young and single and it generally took me 15 minutes to drive to and from my home in Peachtree Hills, a single-family house that had been converted into several apartments (an important note but a discussion for a different blog).
It was in this job at RCLCO on a project providing market analytics support to one of the early Livable Centers Initiatives, that I was introduced to the concept of a “jobs to housing ratio.” My colleagues in urban planning explained that the ratio between how many jobs are in a particular submarket and how much housing is offered in that submarket has a lot to do with traffic and congestion in that submarket. The thinking is pretty straightforward… the more housing available, the more likely folks who work in that area will also choose to live in that area, thereby decreasing commute times and increasing the percentage of those who walk, bike and take transit to work. If memory serves, Buckhead’s jobs to housing ratio was somewhere below a “5” when I started this work. That is, for every five jobs, there was one housing unit. In the 20 years since, Buckhead’s jobs to housing ratio has more than doubled to just over 10. Now there are just over 10 jobs for every single housing unit and we all know what has happened with traffic. To put that in clearer context as it relates to traffic, only 2 percent of those who work in Buckhead live in the area. Buckhead has been wildly successful in growing its employment base and attracting new businesses to the area, but the number and diversity of homes has just not kept up with the demand. Read more.
This post originally appeared on the Buckhead CID website as a guest post on September 25, 2018.