Infill, multifamily best bet for real estate — especially around transit

“Right now, the best sector for real estate nationally as well as in Seattle, is infill multifamily, especially around transit stations,” says Seattle attorney John Hempelmann, vice chair of the Urban Land Institute’s Transit Oriented Development Council. Hempelmann and Neal Sleeper, chair of the Council, say additional high-speed rail development will help bring more transit-oriented development into existence.

One of the sound real estate plays during the next 15 to 20 years will be high-capacity TOD, says Hempelmann. Noting that Seattle is building a $16 billion light rail system with 36 stations, Hempelmann said, “The more opportunities we give people to live in walkable communities and have transportation alternatives to single-occupant vehicles, the better it is for them and the real estate industry.”

Sleeper, president of Cityplace Company, which has nearly completed the 130-acre mixed-use Cityplace project in Dallas, observed that Cityplace is adjacent to both a light rail station and a streetcar line. More high-speed rail projects would spur real estate development, just as airport development generated real estate development in the past, he predicted.

Hempelmann and Sleeper were responding to a recent American Public Transportation Association survey in which nearly two-thirds of adults said they would definitely or probably use high-speed rail for leisure or business travel if it were an option. The survey attempts to rebut critics who charge that “high-speed” rail is too expensive, often not much faster than regular rail service, and unlikely to attract large numbers of riders. The ULI leaders were quoted by BuildUpNow, a real estate source in Raleigh, North Carolina.