“Walkable” is a word one hears a lot in the context of center-city living. Whether it’s a loft condo or an old Victorian on a 50-foot lot in Fourth and Gill, it’s pretty much a given that either one is intrinsically more pedestrian friendly than, say, Farragut.
What makes a neighborhood walkable is likewise pretty intuitive: sidewalks, greenways, and the local shops and services they hopefully lead to. But, beyond that, is walkability just another “quality of life” intangible? Or can you actually quantify how pedestrian-friendly a place is for purposes of comparison-shopping?
That’s the idea behind walkscore.com, a new website that a realtor friend recently turned me onto. Basically an app that analyzes Google Map data to gauge the walkability of a given address, it’s not perfect. Distance isn’t the only determining factor in whether or not you would walk somewhere, after all. And how a business gets categorized can be a bit quirky. I mean, walking into F.M. George and buying a safe certainly counts as “shopping,” but how are you going to carry that sucker home?
Still, the site is revealing. For starters, Knoxville’s average score is an abysmal 47. That’s out of 100, with anything less than 50 considered “car dependent.” (Farragut, for what it’s worth, averages a 31.) Over 90 is a “walker’s paradise” where “daily errands do not require a car.” And that’s where Knoxville comes up decidedly short—even downtown, where my random sampling of addresses only broke into the mid-80s, even in the middle of Market Square. And outside downtown the scores drop off depressingly fast.
There are a few exceptions, however. One is the east end of Fort Sanders (which, thanks to the proximity of both downtown and Cumberland Avenue’s “Strip,” actually nudges into the upper 80s). Then there’s the southeast corner of Fourth and Gill. It’s a quarter-mile further from Market Square than 11th Street. But, by comparison, it’s considerably closer to both the Old City and the Central Street corridor of Downtown North—proximity that pushes its average “walk score” into the upper 70s—a number that’ll no doubt nudge even higher as Downtown North continues to evolve and add destinations.
Walkability, of course, isn’t all the southeast end of Fourth and Gill has going for it. There’s also some pretty good housing stock. This Victorian on Deery, for instance, is less than half a mile from the Old City and comes loaded with features like refinished hardwood floors, original plaster walls, and four fireplaces with period mantels. There are also three full baths, updated wiring, and new gutters. And it all comes rated at an impressive 78 on walkscore.com’s 100 point scale. m
717 Deery St.
2626 sq. ft.
3 bdrm/3 bath
Contact: Vick Dyer or Trisha Lyons