Stronger Neighborhoods through Strategic Decisions: The New ReLocal Tool
Over the past two years, the Rightsizing Cities Initiative of PlaceEconomics has conducted one of the only comprehensive surveys of what’s happening on the ground in legacy cities (for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation), spoken at conferences, convened and sponsored a focused professional meeting around preservation and rightsizing, and talked to planners, preservation advocates, and policymakers from dozens of legacy cities.
After hearing from many stakeholders that cities lacked a way to prioritize investments, we developed a new tool called ReLocal to help direct reinvestment in communities that have significant numbers of vacant and abandoned properties and limited resources to deal with them.
ReLocal is a framework for building stronger neighborhoods, using vacant properties as key parts of long-range plans. The tool uses diverse, comprehensive data to evaluate neighborhood health and vitality and propose stable, sustainable uses for neighborhoods at the tipping point. ReLocal then provides an array of strategic options for each vacant property—an array that allows local choices, responds to a range of funding types, and facilitates the coordination of multiple public and private entities.
Profits through Preservation: The Economic Impact of Historic Preservation in Utah
A new report prepared by PlaceEconomics for the Utah Heritage Foundation finds that historic preservation pulls its weight in Utah. It creates jobs and income, raises and stabilizes property values, generates heritage tourism dollars, helps conserve the natural environment, and supports local entrepreneurs. Read the executive summary here and the condensed report here [PDFs].
Getting Results: New Report on Iowa Main Street
RESEARCH MEASURES ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF MAIN STREET
A new report finds that Main Street Iowa effectively creates jobs, supports local business growth, encourages reinvestment in historic buildings, and generates property and sales taxes that see up to a 50-fold return on Main Street program dollars. The report examines the impacts of the Main Street Iowa program on rural to urban economies throughout the state from 1986 to 2012, utilizing extensive data from diverse sources. Quantitative analysis is supplemented by six case studies that provide a qualitative look at Main Street programs and how they benefit local communities.
The report was prepared by PlaceEconomics for Main Street Iowa and the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Read it here [PDF].
In the News
“A Lot of Tiny Pieces Lost”
(September 11, 2013)
“The question isn’t, ‘what we should demolish on this block,’ but, ‘what should we be focusing our energy on?’” said Cara Bertron, director of PlaceEconomics’ Rightsizing Cities Initiative. “Long-term thinking is critical. What will this neighborhood look like in 10 years? In 20 years? If you make decisions based on what’s going to happen in the next six months, it’s just going to be a mess in six months and the city won’t be any better off.”
Making Places People Like
(July 15, 2013)
“Nearly 800 civic leaders attended a recent placemaking conference sponsored by the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for Quality Communities. Speaking at the conference, Donovan Rypkema debunked several myths about preserving old buildings. He says studies show the older structures are not necessarily less energy efficient than newer construction. Rypkema also reports government investment into preservation provides a significant return for the public.”
Study Shows Economic Development Value of Historic Preservation
(June 25, 2013)
“Preserving historic buildings and sites creates jobs and increases property values, according to a study released Monday by the Utah Heritage Foundation. The study, conducted by Washington, D.C., real estate and economic development consulting firm PlaceEconomics, found that 7,313 jobs were created annually directly or indirectly by the heritage portion of Utah’s tourism industry. In addition, 4,969 total jobs were created between 1990 and 2012 using federal or state historic tax credits, according to the report. ‘What was really powerful was all of the job creation done in historic preservation activity using either the federal or the state historic tax credits,’ PlaceEconomics principal Donovan Rypkema said. ‘This is a very well-paid, labor-intensive activity.’”
Heritage Preservation Brings $1B to Utah Economy
(June 22, 2013)
“Heritage and history are a billion-dollar business in Utah, according to a new study. Heritage tourism has brought more than $1 billion to Utah’s coffers, with $717 million in direct and indirect spending by visitors to heritage sites and special events; and another $350 million in invested taxpayer funds that stayed in Utah rather than being sent to Washington because of projects that used the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit… ‘Our goal is to determine the direct and indirect benefits of historic preservation in Utah,’ Utah Heritage Foundation director Kirk Huffaker said. ‘We think the study hit the mark, and the findings will be very interesting to individuals who are concerned with preservation’s impact.’”
Muncie Has Chance to ‘Right-Size’
(February 11, 2013)
“Donovan Rypkema spent the past week conducting research in Muncie that could help the city downsize, although that’s not the term he uses. The Washington, D.C., real estate/economic development/historic preservation consultant and others call it ‘right-sizing,’ also known as planned shrinkage and often associated with demolition. It’s an approach being taken by other cash-strapped municipalities in the Rust Belt to manage the contraction of former industrial cities, as evidenced by population loss, closed factories and scores of abandoned houses and vacant lots. ‘There are more challenges than there is money in all of these right-sizing cities,’ Rypkema said. ‘It’s not that nothing should be torn down, but there ought to be some systematic framework to it. In most places, the decisions are made on an ad hoc basis.’”
Muncie Star Press
New Study Says It Pays To Restore Iowa’s Main Streets
(January 31, 2013)
“Don Rypkema has been spreading some good news for Iowa that runs counter to conventional wisdom. The Washington, D.C.-based consultant with PlaceEconomics arrived in Des Moines this week to explain the results of his new study of 26 years’ worth of meticulous data that spans the history of the Main Street Iowa program… The bottom line of Rypkema’s study: Main Street Iowa has been a bargain and boon for taxpayers, leveraging an influx of money and jobs into these communities… Main Street already has touted a cumulative 11,000 net new jobs created so far and 3,800 net new businesses, plus nearly $1.2 billion private investment in Main Street buildings.”
Des Moines Register
Main Street Iowa Impact Symposium
“Donovan Rypkema, the principal of Place Economics, will present his findings from a recent study on the economic impacts of the Main Street Iowa program. Rypkema’s study has taken an in-depth analysis of over 26 years of quantitative data and researched qualitative impacts that showcase local compelling success stories that go beyond the numbers… ‘A study of this depth has not been undertaken in Iowa to help us understand the true impacts of the Main Street Iowa program and preservation-based economic development,’ said Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. ‘Increasing the awareness of the economic benefits of historic commercial district revitalization will help all Iowa historic commercial districts to better make the case for their revitalization efforts.’”
Iowa Economic Development Authority
What’s ‘Historic’—And Who Says? Nine Practical Reasons To Save Old Buildings
(January 16, 2013)
“[Jane Jacobs wrote,] ‘Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.’ …A half-century after Jacobs’ insights, real-estate economist Donovan Rypkema cites new studies suggesting that the nation’s fastest-growing businesses have fewer than 20 employees, and modern developers aren’t building anything of an appropriate size to suit them. New construction emphasizes size. The average size of a historic commercial building is about 2,500 square feet, an ideal size, he says, for small-business incubation.”
Read more at In the News.