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.
We've been recommending condominium-izing ground-floor retail space for a long time as a way to help locally owned businesses stay where they are when rent escalates. It looks like the idea is catching on.
According to research by MarketLive, an e-commerce technology platform, 78 percent of shoppers say they're likely to visit stores that text them. 48 percent also say that the quality of a retailer's website influences their likelihood of visiting the bricks-and-mortar store.
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.