When it comes to choosing a neighborhood, studies show that potential homebuyers value good schools, nearby parks and walkways and proximity to retail establishments. Now comes news of another priority: healthy food.
According to a new study from the Urban Land Institute (ULI), communities that offer healthy food, in the form of community gardens, farmer’s markets or other amenities, are highly desirable.
The ULI’s “America in 2015” national survey shows that 73% of U.S. residents consider access to fresh, healthy foods to be a high or top priority. Such interest has prompted new developments specifically incorporating food into the business plans.
“Developers are learning that incorporating opportunities to grow, purchase, and consume food within the context of development projects can pay dividends,” reports ULI. “This focus on local food is spurring innovation in real estate and is providing a rich arena for creativity that can improve outcomes for people, the planet, and profits.”
Such innovation is growing in the Denver area. The study lauded several local projects, including Mariposa, a mixed-income housing redevelopment project southwest of downtown Denver. The project offers residents access to community gardens, an on-site café with healthy cooking classes and affordable healthy meals prepared by local youth training for culinary jobs. The development also hosts a weekly farmer’s market run by the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Another project, this one in North Denver, called Aria Denver, offers a 1.25 acre production garden, a greenhouse and “various other features to accommodate access to fresh produce.”
The study notes that food and real estate are naturally symbiotic. “The synergy between food and real estate is becoming increasingly evident,” said ULI Senior Vice President Rachel MacCleery. “Just as food plays a key role in social interaction and creating a sense of community, real estate plays a significant role in shaping how people access and experience food.”