The quality of life and business growth in downtown Charlottesville, VA, can be attributed to historic and current investments in walkable neighborhoods near jobs, shops and schools.
The Summer 2012 issue of Chamber Executive Magazine features an article outlining the business benefits of smart growth from Parris Glendening, president of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute.
The former governor of Maryland, Glendening spoke at the American Chamber of Commerce Executive’s annual convention last year in Los Angeles, where his ideas about the impact of future gas prices, real estate values and demographic changes were met with interest and enthusiasm.
In Lodi, Calif., a town of 60,000, a $4.5 million project to make its sidewalks and streets more walkable attracted 60 new businesses, reduced storefront vacancies by 12 percent and increased downtown sales tax revenue 30 percent.
Silver Spring, Md., revitalized its central business district over a five year period. A $360 million public-private investment in a mixed-use town center served as the initial catalyst. Annual property tax revenue eventually increased by 30 percent, nearly $1 million greater than pre-project levels.
Were those outcomes coincidental? Hardly.
During my eight years as Governor of Maryland, we focused extensively on the issues of managing sprawl, adding transit-oriented development and increasing sustainability. Collectively, these focus areas formed a basis for the nation’s first modern “smart growth” policies.