In early April, Smart Growth America released a new model for analyzing the fiscal performance of urban development. The City of Madison, WI, was the first city to use the new model in their development planning.
Today we’re proud to release new analysis of development patterns in West Des Moines, IA. The new research examines four different strategies for West Des Moines’ growth over the next 20 years. Each scenario assumes the development of 9,275 housing units and 2.69 million square feet of commercial space, which is in keeping with West Des Moines’ current growth.
The four scenarios have different densities and a different mix of home types. A “base density” scenario approximates the average density of development in West Des Moines today; a “low density” and “higher density” scenario represent incrementally lower, and higher development densities, respectively, than the base. And a “walkable urban” scenario has the highest density of all scenarios considered and represents a more dramatic departure from the typical development pattern in West Des Moines (though does not propose any high-rise development).
The model calculates average annual public costs for each scenario. Our researchers subtract that from the average annual public revenues generated by each scenario. The result is the net fiscal impact of each type of development.
In West Des Moines’ case, the walkable urban scenario would generate an estimated total annual net fiscal impact of $11.2 million — $3.7 million more than the low density scenario. This estimate is conservative, and the benefit to the city could be even greater. Read the full findings in Fiscal Implications of Development Patterns: West Des Moines, IA.
Smart Growth America is always working to help towns and cities better understand the impacts of their development choices and our development analysis model is the most recent in this line of work. If you want to conduct this analysis in your town, city, or county, contact us to learn about our consulting services.