Skip to main content

North Hills Monthly

Walkable Communities Attracting Both Millennials and Seniors

Sep 01, 2017 08:32AM ● By Shari Berg

Village at Pine

When it comes to forecasting the real estate market, one thing is certain: there are no absolutes. Real estate experts seem to agree that 2016, in particular, was one of the most unprecedented and volatile years in recent history. 

But one thing that does seem to be trending–and is showing no signs of going away any time soon–is the desire among those age 18 to 34 to live in walkable communities. Senior citizens who are downsizing and want the convenience of everything in one location also tend to gravitate toward these communities, which are often referred to as mixed-use developments. These unique neighborhoods contain a combination of residential and commercial properties that appeal to individuals who wish to be able to live, work and shop within easy walking distance. 

“On the surface level, it just makes sense,” said Rachel Webber, program coordinator for 21st Century Business District, which manages properties in Lawrenceville, one of the hottest and fastest-growing housing markets in the Greater Pittsburgh region. “It’s more convenient to live, work and shop in the same district. People can walk to their office, or bike to get groceries, or walk with their family to a restaurant to grab dinner.”

Webber said having these amenities in such close proximity generally improves the quality of life for residents. Mixed-use developments also provide a sense of community. “Like Lawrenceville, they have their own identity and are able to achieve that because the business and resident communities are so intertwined,” she explained.

Another benefit of mixed-use developments is that they make use of land or properties that otherwise would have been left vacant, but now have the potential to turn into a community resource, whether as community gardens, restaurants or markets. “Mixed developments can also create an opportunity for affordable housing,” said Webber.

In order to be successful, mixed-used developments should be efficiently designed, be located in a promising area, include a wealth of features and amenities, and be affordable for tenants. Lawrenceville Corporation’s properties meet all of these criteria. Less than three miles from downtown Pittsburgh, the area boasts a rich history, engaging atmosphere and plenty of culture. 

The success of mixed-use developments such as the one in Lawrenceville are definitely catching on in Pittsburgh, with more developers being willing to explore the model. “I think more developers are realizing that people love Pittsburgh for the unique identity of each of our neighborhoods,” said Webber. “Keeping that identity preserved happens because of the work of residents and business owners alike, and when they both have a stake in the community, the neighborhood flourishes.” 

Another popular mixed-use development is the Village at Pine, located in Wexford. The community is located just north of Pittsburgh and features a unique town center community that provides restaurants and shops and is just minutes from the I-79/I-279 corridor. The community is currently sold out for lots and new development, but there are a few existing homes within the plan that are listed on the market. 

According to, 36 of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods score a 70 or higher on the walkability scale, with four of them receiving the coveted walker’s paradise list: Central Business District, South Side Flats, North Oakland and Lower Lawrenceville. 

So how do prospective buyers determine if a community is truly walkable? 

“It’s about the location of the development more than the development itself,” said Webber. “Lawrenceville is 30-plus blocks of shopping, living and working that is incredibly walkable and sustainable because it’s easily connected. The same kind of business district might not work in another area.”