Tag: Georgia

In Macon, GA, smart growth would mean quadruple returns

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Actually, more than quadruple. It would generate 4.7 times the fiscal impact as development on the edge of town.

Back in April, we released a new model for analyzing the fiscal implications of development patterns. Since then we’ve analyzed development in Madison, WI and West Des Moines, IA.

Now, Macon, GA is the most recent city in which we’ve applied our model.

We looked at four scenarios of how Macon could grow over the next 20 years, and what each scenario would mean for the city’s finances. Our research found that development on the edge of town would generate about $165,000 for the city each year. The same development, if located downtown, would generate at least $428,000 per year for the city—and potentially as much as $788,000 per year if walkable places’ higher property values were factored in.

These results are similar to those from Madison and West Des Moines: building in compact, more walkable ways benefit a city’s bottom line. These strategies reduce the cost of infrastructure and services, while also generating more tax revenue per acre. The only question is, how much would your city gain with a smart growth approach?

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New report reveals historic shift in real estate demand in Atlanta, GA

Atlanta's Five Points neighborhood
Atlanta’s Little Five Points Neighborhood. Photo via Flickr.

Walkable urban development is now the primary real estate market in one of the nation’s most unlikely regions: metropolitan Atlanta, GA.

That’s according to The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Atlanta, a new report released today and authored by Christopher Leinberger, President of Smart Growth America’s LOCUS coalition of real estate developers and investors.

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Partnership in the News: Atlanta BeltLine receives TIGER V funding

Atlanta BeltLine
The Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail, one of the more complete sections of the project. Photo by Atlanta BeltLine via Flickr.

Atlanta, GA’s BeltLine project will complete a major section of its multi-use trail network three years ahead of schedule thanks to a Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The $18 million grant awarded earlier this month will help develop a 2.5-mile stretch of the BeltLine’s southwest corridor. This portion of the BeltLine is a former freight line that has not been operational in over 30 years. Funding from this fifth-round TIGER grant will cover the cost of right-of-way, design, demolition and construction for a mix of shared use trails, trailheads, access points, and the preservation of the future streetcar transit corridor.

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Spotlight on Sustainability: Sustainable development plan brings new life to Augusta, GA

15th St., August, GA.
Community meetings helped inform this rendering for proposed improvements along August, GA’s 15th Street corridor, including landscaped median, bike lanes, and tree-lined sidewalks. Image via the Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program.

Augusta, GA, is reinvesting in its downtown and a 4.5 mile corridor along 15th Street, thanks in part to a 2010 Community Challenge grant from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Downtown Augusta today is home to many empty storefronts and vacant houses, starting at an empty shopping mall in the Rocky Creek neighborhood and running along Deans Bridge Road up to 15th Street in Cherry Tree. The Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program is working to transform these struggling neighborhoods and spur economic development in Augusta’s downtown. The Program focuses on four areas along the corridor: Rocky Creek, Southgate, Oates Creek and Cherry Tree. Each community has unique needs, and concept plans have been developed for each neighborhood through input from community residents.

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Smart growth strategies a key to economic opportunity

Income mobility map
A map of income mobility. Mixed-income neighborhoods turn out to be a key indicator of a family’s ability to rise out of poverty. Via New York Times.

A new study from Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley underscores why smart growth strategies are a key part of economically strong regions.

The Equality of Opportunity Project examined economic mobility—the likelihood a family will rise from the bottom of the income ladder toward the top. Schools, civic engagement and two-parent households are all correlated with economic mobility, but the study also considered factors that previous studies of economic mobility could not, including a region’s geography. The study found that where a family lives also impacts their potential to rise up the income ladder.

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A game plan to change development patterns in Gwinnett County, Georgia

Downtown Suwanee in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Photo by Smart Growth America.

Located just outside Atlanta’s Perimeter beltway, Gwinnett County stands at the crossroads of change. Long known as a low-density bedroom suburb, Gwinnett today is a diverse county of more than 800,000 people with and rapidly increasing jobs base.

But Gwinnett County is quickly bumping up against the limits of suburban development. Older retail and jobs centers are changing rapidly and some are in decline. As is the case everywhere in metropolitan Atlanta, traffic congestion is overwhelming. The County and its business leaders have sponsored several transit plans for the I-85 corridor in recent years, but the defeat of the recent transportation initiative has made it unlikely that rail transit will extend to Gwinnett County anytime soon. In a few cases – the City of Suwanee in particular – new development has taken on a different pattern. But most of the county is still stuck in the problems of suburbia.

Posted in Georgia, Planning for Economic and Fiscal Health, Technical assistance, Workshops | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Value capture, the Dulles Rail Extension, and the future of transit funding

Reposted from DC Streetsblog.

The failure of Atlanta’s transportation ballot measure late last month led to speculation among many analysts about what the vote meant for other regions across the country looking for ways to fund infrastructure projects. But though the Atlanta vote captured the lion’s share of media attention, another vote cast in July could hold as much – if not more – importance in coming years.

In an increasingly contentious political environment, it can be difficult to get important transportation projects off the ground. Finding funding sources for these projects, no matter how valuable they might be, can prove politically impossible, with many people skeptical over both increased spending and revenue creation sources. Gas taxes are almost entirely a non-starter, and despite the fact that 79 percent of transportation ballot measures overall passed in 2011, according to the Center for Transit Excellence, they can still fall victim to the kinds of pressures seen in the metro Atlanta area.

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Ballot measure offers Atlanta an alternative to gridlock

Traffic jam in Atlanta. Photo by Flickr user Matt Lemmon.

Though it won’t come as news to residents – or anyone who has visited the region – metro Atlanta has some of the worst traffic congestion in the country. The worst, in fact, according to a 2006 ranking by Forbes. Metro Atlanta residents spend an average of 43 hours per year stuck in traffic, costing individuals an estimated $924 per year in lost productivity and wasted fuel. Moreover, years of auto-oriented suburban growth and lack of investment in the regions’ MARTA transit system means that commuters looking for an alternative to the gridlock are largely out of luck. The region’s rail system currently serves only a small percentage of metro Atlanta’s 4.1 million residents.

That could soon change, however. In what is being billed as a watershed moment for metro Atlanta, voters in the 10-county Atlanta region will go to the polls on Tuesday, July 31, to vote on a referendum to raise an estimated $7.2 billion for transportation projects aimed at relieving Atlanta’s congestion and building out its transit network. The Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) would raise the region’s sales tax by 1 cent for ten years. 85% of the funds raised would be spent on a list of regional transportation projects developed by a “regional roundtable” of elected officials. Approximately 52% would go to transit projects, including an expansion of the MARTA heavy rail system and the Beltline Light Rail. The remaining 15% would go to each county for local projects.

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Breathing new life into a symbol of Atlanta’s past

A rendering of the Atlanta BeltLine project. Photo courtesy of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. / Perkins + Will /  Field Operations. Used with permission.

Despite its reputation as a sprawling capital of the New South, Atlanta, GA is a city with a rich history and industrial legacy. Now, as part of the massive Atlanta BeltLine project, historic buildings that encapsulate the city’s past are being repurposed to meet the growing demand for walkable urbanism in the region. One such example of this type of revitalization is the Ponce City Market, which will restore the expansive Sears, Roebuck & Co. building in Atlanta.

The project is being developed by Jamestown Properties and Green Street Properties, and will bring new life to 1.1 million square feet of the old building which has been largely unused for over 20 years. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Sears, Roebuck & Co. building was built in 1926 to provide space for the company’s regional offices and a retail store. The building was expanded several times and even hosted farmer’s markets, but it closed in 1987. The city of Atlanta later purchased the building, but after renovations were delayed, sold it to a developer in 2006.

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The Ford Foundation hosts Just City: a forum on metropolitan opportunity

Today in New York, The Ford Foundation is holding a 75th anniversary event to explore how fairness, opportunity and equity can serve as defining features in the development of megacities and metro regions this new era of urbanization. The event includes speakers working on all kinds of issues related to cities, including mayors, transportation experts, academics, artists, business leaders, journalists, governors and federal lawmakers.

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