What’s the value of a great downtown? Joe Minicozzi can tell you exactly, in dollars and cents.

minicozzi-joe-300x225One of the main reasons Smart Growth America advocates for compact, walkable urban development is because this approach can greatly benefit the finances of municipalities. Smart growth strategies can reduce infrastructure costs and ongoing expenses for cities while also boosting tax revenues. Smart Growth America’s own work has shown that, and we know this to be true too because of the outstanding work of others in the field like Joe Minicozzi, AICP and the principal at Urban3, LLC, a consultancy based out of Asheville, NC. We’re fans of their work and and cite it often as yet another illustration of how good smart growth can be for city finances. We want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the evidence Minicozzi has amassed over the years demonstrating smart growth’s fiscal benefits.

Urban3 has been hired by cities and towns across the United States and Canada to analyze the financial implications of their development strategies. Most city planners and elected officials understand that a city brings in more tax revenue when people shop and eat out, Minicozzi explained in 2012, but they often underestimate just how much more valuable this economic activity is when it happens downtown rather than on a city’s outskirts.

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New analysis examines the fiscal implications of development patterns in West Des Moines, IA

fiscal-implications-wdm-coverIn 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.

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Watch the recorded webcast of "The Fiscal Implications of Development Patterns"

To what degree does the choice of development pattern impact costs for a local government? How do these decisions affect a municipality’s budget and tax revenues, and the cost of infrastructure and services it must provide?

The Fiscal Impact of Development Patterns, a new model from Smart Growth America and real estate advisors RCLCO, is designed to help municipalities answer these questions.

The new model was unveiled yesterday morning, and as part of the kickoff Chris Zimmerman, Smart Growth America’s Vice President for Economic Development, and Patrick Lynch, Smart Growth America’s Research Director, presented an overview of the new resource at an event in Madison, WI. The presentation was webcast live yesterday afternoon and a recorded version of their discussion is now available above or on YouTube.

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Introducing "The Fiscal Implications of Development Patterns"

A smart growth approach can help municipalities support their long term financial health, and a new tool will help local leaders understand specific ways this approach can help their community.

The Fiscal Implications of Development Patterns, released today by Smart Growth America and real estate advisors RCLCO, is a new model for analyzing the fiscal performance of urban development.

It is designed to help towns, cities, and counties understand what financial returns their development currently generates—and what strategies could generate better returns in the future.

This new model is unique in that it is sensitive to both geography and density. We allow municipal costs per capita to vary based on these factors.

Join today’s kickoff event

Smart Growth America will be presenting this new tool at a live event today at 2:00 PM EDT in Madison, WI. The event will also be live streamed on the web, and we invite you to watch.

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Madison is the first city in the country to use our new model, and today’s event will also include a demonstration of how the model applies to Madison’s development specifically.

Smart Growth America is always working to help towns and cities better understand the impacts of their development choices. Our new model is the most recent in this line of work and we look forward to sharing it with you. Join us later today to learn all about the new resource.

P.S.—Want to conduct this analysis in your town, city, or county? Contact us to learn about our consulting services.

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A new model for analyzing city development

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Madison, WI, is the first city to use a forthcoming analysis model from Smart Growth America and RCLCO.

Every town and city makes decisions about how to grow and what kind of development to build. These decisions shape entire neighborhoods, and form the foundation of American communities as we know them.

These decisions also impact a city’s finances. Some development patterns generate net revenue, others run a deficit. A smart growth approach can help cities build in ways that support long term fiscal health, and a new tool will help local leaders understand specific ways this approach can help their community.

Next week Smart Growth America and RCLCO will unveil a new model for analyzing the fiscal performance of urban development. This new model will be applicable in every town or city across the country, and is designed to help cities understand what financial returns their development currently generates—and what strategies could generate better returns in the future.

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Listen in: Building Better Budgets panel discussion

Building Better BudgetsYesterday Smart Growth America released new research on the savings and revenue of smart growth development. Building Better Budgets is the first report to aggregate local fiscal comparisons and determine a national average of how much communities can expect to save by using smart growth strategies.

To accompany the release we hosted a panel discussion of the new findings. If you weren’t able to join the event an archived version is now available at the link below.

Listen in: Click here to view the archived recording

Speaking on the panel were William Fulton, Vice President of Policy Development and Implementation, Smart Growth America; Rick Bernhardt, FAICP, CNU-A, Executive Director Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County Planning Department; Mary Newsom, Associate Director of Urban and Regional Affairs at UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute; and Chris Zimmerman, Member of Arlington County (VA) Board.

The panel discussion includes an overview of the findings and discussion of development strategies in Nashville, TN, Charlotte, NC, and Arlington, VA, as well as a question and answer session with panel attendees.

Read more about Building Better Budgets >>

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