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Development opportunities from mobility

Some of the networking at Realty takes place almost on the beach...
Some of the networking at Realty takes place almost on the beach...

A presentation at Realty yesterday afternoon, provided an insight into how new mobility may also provide opportunities for property developers. The speaker was Alexander D’Hooge, Professor of Urbanism at M.I.T. in Boston. In introducing him, Realty organiser Mathieu Van Marcke pointed out that Professor D’Hooge is the first Belgian to achieve this level of academic recognition in urbanism (albeit differently) since Victor Horta...

The focus of the presentation was on mobility requirements in the place where they are most needed – the outskirts or suburbs of the city. This is where mobility hubs will be developed, providing numerous forms of transport to get people from outside the city to their destination. And the new mobility services are attracting huge amounts of private capital. They therefore offer great potential for partnerships between various players, including mobility providers and property developers.

In reverse

The thinking behind this potential is that the multi-modal hubs will be located in the parts of the suburbs where they are most useful, and there will be opportunities for developing services such as offices, shops, crèches... there. It almost seems like the opposite of the generally existing situation which would be to say ‘there’s an office block there, we should provide some transport’. Now it would become ‘There’s a transport hub there, we could build a ...’. The thinking is certainly in line with what is being encouraged within many Belgian cities, however, where office developments are constructed close to stations.

The real estate professionals would be creating what Professor D’Hooge refers to as ‘TOD’ or Transport Oriented Developments. These developments would be providing ‘space plus access’.

New ride-hailing

On a different subject, but of great interest to all those involved in new mobility solutions, Professor D’Hooge outlined a new service in the USA. Called VIA, this is a sort of ride-hailing service, but with a new twist. You tell the VIA app where you want to go, and it will respond by saying something like: ‘Walk down to the end of the road, it will take 4 minutes, and a VIA car will pick you up. It will drop you off within 3 minutes walk of your destination.’ The cars themselves take around 5 people and they are partitioned inside so that you don’t have to talk to the others, and you can make private phone calls. Alongside this in-car feature, the second innovative element of the service is the thus fact that every passenger is not picked up and dropped off at precisely the start-point and destination of their journey, which requires a lot of detours and wastes time for the others...
Tim Harrup

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