Category: Featured Content

A new push to make brownfield cleanup more affordable

esty-brownfields-bill-2015Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Mayor Patricia Murphy of New Milford, CT visit New Milford’s Century Brass mill, a brownfield site, in 2014. Photos via The News-Times.

Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT-5) is fighting hard to reinstate a tax incentive to help cleaning up contaminated land more affordable and more feasible.

Late last month, Esty introduced the Brownfields Redevelopment Tax Incentive Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2002), a bill to re-establish the Brownfields Tax Incentive which ended in 2011.

Originally signed into law in 1997 and codified through Section 198(h) of the Internal Revenue Service’s tax code, the Incentive allowed taxpayers to fully deduct the costs of brownfield sites’ environmental cleanup the year the costs were incurred—making the arduous process more affordable for those who take it on.

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Join the 2015 LOCUS Leadership Summit for walking tours that highlight infrastructure in action

It’s Infrastructure Week here in Washington, and everyone inside the Beltway is talking about the benefits of investments in roads, bridges, and transit. In two weeks, as part of the 2015 LOCUS Leadership Summit, we’ll hold three walking tours that showcase neighborhoods transformed by investments in infrastructure—and you’re invited to join us.

hstreet2 H Street NE
One of the Washington, DC’s most historic neighborhoods, H Street has been home to legendary performance venues such as the Atlas Theatre and the H Street Playhouse. Now the center of a redevelopment renaissance—including construction of a new streetcar line—H Street NE is fighting to maintain affordability for residents both old and new.
brooklnad Brookland
This once-small neighborhood has grown steadily over the last few decades, and more recently boomed with the construction of large mixed-use development project, Monroe Street Market, one of the most prominent examples of transit-oriented development in the DC metro area.
tysons Tysons, VA
Once an “edge city” of primarily office and retail space, Tysons has taken a leap into new residential and commercial markets. The Silver Line, Metro’s most recent addition to its system, has garnered interest in mixed-use development and walkability in Tysons. Explore the newest investments toward this goal, including the Greensboro Park Place.


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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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Secretary Anthony Foxx to deliver keynote address at 2015 LOCUS Leadership Summit

summit-foxx-700px

Great, walkable neighborhoods are stronger when people of all income levels can afford to live there. Next month, real estate developers from across the country will gather to talk about how they can help make that happen as part of the 2015 LOCUS Leadership Summit.

Transportation is a crucial part of this discussion and no one is more important in this arena than the U.S. Department of Transportation. The good news is that USDOT will join the Summit to speak frankly about how developers and transportation advocates can work together to build walkable, equitable communities.

We are excited to announce that U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will deliver the keynote address at the 2015 LOCUS Leadership Summit. Under Secretary Foxx’s leadership, USDOT is working to make sure transportation investments support working families and America’s broader economy. Foxx’s keynote will provide insights into USDOT’s current programs, its plans for the future, and how real estate developers can be part of the national effort for more equitable, walkable communities. Register today to join the event:


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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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“Evaluating Complete Streets Projects: A guide for practitioners” now available

ecsp-coverCommunities have seen amazing results from their Complete Streets projects. These projects have made streets safer, increased the number of people biking, walking, and taking transit, and have been related to broader economic gains. But too few communities measure these results.

Our newest guide is designed to make it easier for transportation professionals to understand and use new measures of success. Evaluating Complete Streets Projects: A guide for practitioners is a beginners guide to performance measures for Complete Streets projects published today by the National Complete Streets Coalition.

Meant for agencies interested in but just beginning their project evaluation efforts, this resource provides general first steps to take in evaluating projects, useful measures and metrics for common Complete Streets goals, tips for sharing successes, and further resources for those ready to dive deeper into the why and how of performance measurement for Complete Streets.

Measuring project performance can help transportation agencies understand what’s working and what’s not. It’s a crucial way for agencies to align project decisions with established goals, and can clearly demonstrate a project’s success. All of this can help transportation agencies build public support for their work and get the most out of their investments. Our new guide is a great first step in achieving these goals.

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A new model for analyzing city development

madison-700px
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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Tell Congress to support transit oriented development

Communities across the country are eager to build more homes and offices near transit stations. These projects can create walkable neighborhoods, and great returns on public investment, but are often complicated and difficult to finance. 

A new bill in Congress could make financing these projects easier. The Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Financing Act would add new provision to the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) to include financing for transit oriented development projects. 

TIFIA already provides loans, not subsidies, to eligible transportation projects. The new provision would go a step further to make loans available for transit oriented development infrastructure projects as well. 

The Senate needs to hear your support for this program. In the coming weeks, Congress will consider whether or not this provision should be included in the next federal transportation bill.

Send a letter to your Senators now >>

Transit oriented development is a fiscally sound way to leverage private sector dollars and create new homes and office space near transit. These projects can revitalize neighborhoods and support broader economic growth, but we need innovative programs like this to make it happen.

As Congress prepares to consider the next federal transportation bill, now is the time to voice your support for development near transit. Send a letter to your Senators today.

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