Investing in downtowns pays off for cities, regions

Benefits include driving tax revenue, business activity, and smart development.

February 11, 2019 |

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Cities and regions can generate profound lasting benefits through investment in downtowns and center cities, according to The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities: Second Edition report by the International Downtown Association (IDA).

While often small in physical size, downtowns pack a punch. “From driving tax revenue and business activity to spurring smart development and innovative workplaces, downtowns play a pivotal role in the long-term health of a region,” according to a news release from IDA and Stantec, the association’s partner on the report.

The report updates The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities study released a year ago, with data and analysis that expands the scope to 24 downtowns with urban place management organizations across the United States. Downtown populations continue to grow and their economic prosperity increases as they mature.

Trends identified in this year’s report include:

· Tax revenue increases as downtowns move from emerging to established. Property tax revenue in emerging downtowns averages 11% of citywide property tax revenues, but increases to 32% in established downtowns.

· Downtown population growth far outpaces citywide growth, and it accelerates as downtowns move toward the established tier. Between 2010 and 2016, population grew by 29% in established downtowns, 37% in growing downtowns and 14% in emerging downtowns.

· As downtowns grow more robust, the income of their residents rises relative to the rest of the city. Established downtowns outperformed their cities, with median income at 110% of the citywide figure. This pattern underscores the importance of developing policies and mechanisms for keeping downtown housing accessible to all income levels.

· Downtowns become more concentrated employment centers as their stage of development progresses. Established downtowns have 52% of citywide jobs. 

· Downtowns are multimodal hubs that rely less on cars than their cities. Established downtowns have nearly perfect Walk and Transit Scores (96 and 98 respectively).

 

The report can be downloaded at:

https://www.ida-downtown.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?expires=yes&WebKey=4f3d15ae-20cd-4d79-a478-ed3fa816a9fd

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