The Community Land Use and Economics Group is a small, specialized, consulting firm that helps community leaders create vibrant downtowns and neighborhood commercial centers. Our work focuses on developing forward-looking economic transformation strategies, with particular emphasis on cultivating locally owned businesses, removing regulatory and financial barriers, creating effective incentives to stimulate new investment, reusing older and historic commercial buildings, and outlining practical implementation plans. Our clients include local and state governments, nonprofit organizations, business improvement districts, developers, and planning firms in the US and abroad.
Some big-box stores are claiming that, for local property tax assessment purposes, their buildings should be valued at the fair market value of a vacant store of similar size -- buildings that are notoriously hard to sell. Often, that fair market price is a fraction of the value of the new store's building. The strategy is called the "dark store tax tactic" and it's a terrible deal for cities.
Here's a neat little primer on the arithmetic behind affordable/inclusionary housing requirements. It's by Rick Jacobus, someone we teamed with many years ago when we were developing urban Main Street programs in the Bay Area. Spoiler alert: Affordable unit requirements don't affect market-rate prices, but they may serve as a disincentive to new production. Rick illustrates the simple equation with an elegant diagram.
COOPRINCIPLE is a new, Minnesota-based non-profit that wants to grow the cooperative economy by creating capital resources. They help local groups start coop investment clubs so members can invest directly in cooperative enterprises.
One in four local banks has closed since 2008. Why is this so important for Main Streets? Because local banks are the cornerstones of relationship-based banking -- exactly the kind of banks that make loans to independent businesses and entrepreneurs.
A pop-up restaurant in Detroit -- called "POP" -- brings in a new chef and new cuisine every week. POP is located in an event space of an existing bar. The chef pays nothing to use the kitchen, and the bar benefits from the foodie crowds.
Amazon is in talks to buy some Radio Shack stores -- partly to enter the brick-and-mortar retail sales channel, partly to "showroom" its electronics merchandise. Radio Shack has locations in many traditional business districts and downtowns. It's not yet clear if (some of) these will be part of Amazon's plans.