Jan 07, 2022
In Draper, a suburb of Salt Lake City, developers recently plans revealed to build Utah first “city in 15 minutes”, a residential planning model in which all daily necessities – including shopping – are within walking or cycling distance of a quarter of an hour.
Initiatives for 15 minute cities are underway in Paris, Milan, Stockholm, Vancouver and Melbourne, as well as Portland (Oregon), Seattle and Detroit in the United States
First invented in 2016 by Sorbonne professor Carlos Moreno, the 15-minute city model recalls how historic European cities as well as the first American cities were organized before the arrival of cars. Instead of separate neighborhoods for working, living and playing, the town 15 minutes away concept envisions many neighborhoods, also called “complete communities”, scattered in a city where the three functions coexist.
Online shopping (eliminating the 20-minute drive to the big box), virtual communication, and the trend of working from home are newer factors making local living more feasible.
the towns 15 minutes away concept promises ecological benefits because relying less on cars reduces urban heat, carbon emissions and redundant travel time.
In terms of social benefits, 15-Minute Cities and other “time-based” concepts promise to reduce stress by eliminating long commutes while allowing residents to tap into the connections of tight-knit communities.
The restrictions linked to the pandemic and the demands of working from home have caused households to rethink investing time in their communities to improve their quality of life. Homeowners in the suburbs and outskirts are said to seek similar access to work, rest and play facilities as city dwellers.
Finally, equity is cited as another potential return on investment for cities within 15 minutes, assuming that equal access to services, community building amenities, and green spaces can reduce divisions and social inequalities.
The hyper-local focus would be a boon for local purchases, providing opportunities for moms and pops but also for national players. WD Partners wrote in a new study that partially explored the 15-minute city trend: “Retailers need to move to where people spend most of their lives now: the local neighborhood. Gone are the days of ‘build and they will come out’ in distant virgin land.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How would you rate the development potential and overall attractiveness of 15-minute cities? Would such hyper-local communities favor moms and dads or provide equal opportunities for national retail players?
“I have long believed that this model is very effective, and it also seems to attract buyers from outside the community who are drawn to the vibe.”