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Rankings reveal Massachusetts city's bright future
Yonah Freemark | Broken Sidewalk


The city's new bus terminal is part of the reason Attleboro received a "gold rating" for affordability and accessibility among regional urban centers. (Staff file photo by Mark Stockwell)

Americans love rankings. We rank movies, sports teams, colleges.


"No. 2: Eternal Rest Meadows has lovely landscaping, beautiful pathways but just misses out on our number one spot for its lack of valet parking."


And Attleboro is no stranger to any number of lists of this sort. Not long ago, the Jewelry City was rated as the "second most boring" city in the commonwealth by a real estate group whose staff had way too much time on its hands.


But now the city's been ranked at the highest level in a couple of categories that recognize the fact that Attleboro's citizens can look to a promising future. The new study, "Metro Boston: Walk-Up Wake-Up Call," which looked at 57 walkable centers throughout Eastern Massachusetts, gave the city a "gold rating" in affordability and accessibility. Attleboro was classified as a "regional urban center" with a walkable urban core and access to public transportation in the study, which was published by the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at the George Washington University School of Business in Washington, D.C., and Boston's Northeastern University Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, with the assistance of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.


Attleboro earned its gold rating based on relatively low housing costs compared with other urban areas, accessibility to transit and good school performance.


The study noted that Attleboro has benefited from a recent shift in construction and investment from suburban towns to urban areas.


The city center's new bus terminal, the Renaissance Station mixed use development and other elements of the downtown's revitalization, all were able to take advantage of that shift. And the city's administration, school department and Attleboro Redevelopment Authority can all claim part of the credit for the city's sterling - well, make that "golden" - ranking.


Somewhat unsettlingly, though, some of the elements that give the city its golden rating for affordability also knock it down to the less glittering "copper" rating in the survey's measure of economic performance. Attleboro's lower property tax assessments and more modest rental costs, while they may be off-putting for business interests, should properly, we think, be viewed as opportunities for investors who want to take advantage of low costs in a city that is on the verge of a new beginning.


After 100 years, the survey shows, Attleboro's best days are still ahead of it. And that's a ranking of which any city should be proud.