DOWNTOWN CEDAR RAPIDS
HOUSING STRATEGY FOR A LIVABLE DOWNTOWN
Following completion of the development opportunities analysis
comes the challenge of outlining an implementable strategy for
promoting housing investment downtown. Webster’s Dictionary
defines implementation as “a means for accomplishing an end” or
“an action to put into effect.”
The strategy begins with a discussion of the context in which
implementation takes place. This is followed by a description of
general strategies. Finally, specific strategies, or priority actions to
“ready the environment” for downtown housing investment are
presented from both a City and stakeholder perspective.
The most significant barrier to implementation of any community plan, housing or otherwise, is
lack of money. There have been few times in the past 25 years when government -- and
particularly local government -- has had such financial constraints as today. Comprehensive and
specific planning for Downtown Cedar Rapids comes at a time when demands on local
governments are high and resources are low. Implementation is therefore challenging,
necessitating innovative strategies and tactics.
Committed On-Going Leadership
Successful urban development and redevelopment usually comes down to the leadership of an
individual or "cheerleader". That individual is focused and committed to seeing the project or the
program through to successful completion. It may be an elected public official; it may be a
business or citizen leader; or a combination working in committee. Nonetheless, virtually all urban
redevelopment programs such as downtown redevelopment, civic center development,
community beautification and the like have a consistent and determined leader to see it through.
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Implementation in the broader context refers to how the various stakeholder entities can build a
process that results in the successful development of an on-going and continuous stream of
projects that contribute to the shared goals and objectives of the Cedar Rapids Vision document
and Downtown Development Strategy.
Most implementation tends to be transaction-based -- tied to a single project, either public, private
or public-private. An implementable investment strategy, as recommended here, recognizes the
need for both transaction-based implementation, and an on-going structure which assures that the
strategy is moving continually forward. Implementation should never become dependent on, or
vulnerable to, any specific project. Rather, the emphasis should continue to be oriented towards
designing an environment where multiple projects are encouraged and which provides each an
optimal chance for success.
Supportive Regulatory Environment
Over the last several decades, zoning regulations in most cities have evolved to prescribe
suburban forms of development including abundant on-site parking (often at the expense of other
transportation modes). Prescribing suburban regulations to downtown development does not
recognize nor take advantage of the unique characteristics of the urban center. Instead, it
mandates the transition of the area from urban to suburban. Economically, redevelopment of a
downtown with suburban-type development will only occur after significant further decline results
in downtown land prices that are similar to prices for vacant land on the fringe. To redevelop
downtown areas, cities must develop regulations consistent with these areas’ unique physical and
economic characteristics. The City of Cedar Rapids zoning regulations are well designed to
encourage downtown development and redevelopment for commercial uses. Now, actions should
be considered to encourage residential uses as well. For example, fast-track approval processes
and fee waivers for downtown housing projects which have City support can help offset private
sector development costs with little or no impact on City’s finances.
Many downtown properties do not have sufficient land to meet the parking requirement for
residential use. To do so may require assembling multiple parcels and/or razing otherwise useful
buildings. The acquisition and construction costs would be prohibitive for structured parking.
Parking issues should be addressed comprehensively and not in a piece-meal fashion in order to
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provide certainty to the City, property owners, lenders, and developers. A range of potential
solutions might include the following:
Requiring fees-in-lieu of parking requirements for all downtown developments, including
residential and commercial projects, and using the funds for parking construction.
Providing public transportation alternatives.
Reducing parking requirements or fees-in-lieu for developments which include an
appropriate balance of commercial and residential uses.
Once accustomed to urban living, most users will reduce their dependency on cars. At that time,
parking ratios of one car per unit or less may be reasonable. However, in a new market such as
downtown Cedar Rapids, the initial provision of additional parking spaces may be essential to the
marketing and absorption of units. Developers should work with the City to find a means to
accommodate this temporary need without having to make long-term capital investments.
Solutions may include temporary off-site or shared parking arrangements. The final solution may
involve more than one of the above ideas and will require negotiation by the City, property owners,
and developers to tailor a solution to Cedar Rapid’s circumstances, needs, and desires.
Enhanced Public Transportation
Buses should be routed in the downtown area to serve large developments or groups of
developments. To make public transit more cost-effective, the City may encourage the clustering
of residential projects in downtown – over time. This could be done either through a parking plan
or overlay-zoning district. Developers should provide, at least in part, the necessary capital
improvements to serve their development such as bus shelters and signage.
Criteria may require that developments be oriented toward the street, automobile access be
limited to the rear of properties, or that street level units be developed commercially. The
planning effort to develop standards should include the participation of City officials, property
owners, architects, and neighborhood groups. By enforcing a minimum standard, the City can
create a stable environment in which property owners can assume a reasonable return on
property investments. This strategy has proven successful time and again in both suburban and
In order to command higher rents and sale prices, developers must utilize good design to
maximize the efficiency of smaller housing unit sizes. Smaller units are required to compensate
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for higher land and development costs. Further, the development must be integrated into the
context of the neighborhood and draw upon the unique aspects of downtown living which will be
the projects’ competitive strengths. Locational factors such as proximity to jobs, schools, and
services must be given due consideration. Higher density projects must position themselves to
offer these locational advantages not offered by more distant, less dense developments in order
to lure tenants out of single family products. While projects accentuating downtown’s
characteristics appeal to a thinner market, they have been far more successful than projects
which attempt to suburbanize downtowns.
Many communities have instituted urban growth boundaries to counter sprawl. The benefits
include maintaining and improving property values in developed areas (including downtowns),
reducing congestion, and preserving open space and environmentally sensitive areas. The
boundary must be carefully located to provide an adequate land supply to accommodate growth in
a planned and cohesive manner. For policies to be successful, new development must be
prevented from being built immediately outside the city boundaries. This can be achieved by
adopting an inter-governmental agreement with the County.
“3 Ps” – Incentive Projects, Programs and Policies
Because demands for local tax dollars are increasing, government incentives to businesses can
be politically controversial. However, the most successful downtown housing programs have
involved local government incentives. The following actions have been successfully used in other
communities and warrant consideration. If not appropriate or feasible at this time, they may be in
The City can utilize funds from existing Capital Improvement Programs to maintain, replace or
improve downtown infrastructure, streetscaping, and civic buildings and parks. Additional money
is not required. Rather, higher priority is given to downtown projects than in the past. For
example, repairs and improvements to an existing downtown sewer may provide a greater return
in terms of new housing units, private investment, and/or tax revenues than a new sewer on the
fringes of the City. Because most of the urban area is included within the corporate limits of
Cedar Rapids, the City has the choice to direct growth towards fringe areas or downtown. This is
not an opportunity available to most central cities which are land-locked and growth is
predominately occurring in other jurisdictions. To date, Cedar Rapids’ emphasis has been on
more suburban development.
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In its role as a downtown advocate, the Renaissance Group can function as a clearinghouse for
housing information for prospective developers. One program component could include the
development and maintenance of a database tracking all vacant or available buildings and parcels
in the downtown area. Individual records might note a parcel identification number, street
address, lot and building size, owners’ names and addresses, zoning designation, utility
availability, character of the surrounding neighborhood, proximity to amenities such as schools,
shopping, employment centers, or transit, and the assessed valuation. Additionally, the
Renaissance Group can provide information on local zoning processes, contractors, lenders,
architects, and engineers as well as information on the state tax credit program.
The Renaissance Group should continue to act as the primary advocate and promoter for
Downtown, and expand their role as a facilitator for potential projects, bringing together and
developing a consensus among developers, property owners, brokers, lenders, and city officials.
Expand District – Geography and Assessment
Critical to the success of Cedar Rapids’ downtown housing investment efforts will be the
availability of capital to fund an expanded array of projects and programs. The most obvious
source for these funds would be through either an expansion of the existing SMID or increase in
the assessment. It is an undisputed fact that districts across the country have played a vital role
in the maintenance and revitalization of their downtown markets. Their ability to facilitate
development and redevelopment is supported under the community development corporation
(CDC) umbrella which permits an entity to acquire and hold property.
In order for the Renaissance Group to be truly effective as a facilitator of downtown housing they
will need their resources increased. Resources should increase through expansion of the district,
particularly to those areas where opportunity sites have been identified. Resources could also be
expanded through an increase in the assessment.
Another advantage of improvement districts is that they can issue tax-exempt bonds with better
financing terms than conventional financing normally available to private developers. Both
suburban and urban communities have used this technique to finance utility extensions. The
same strategy will work for infill developments.
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Local financial institutions may have limited experience with downtown housing developments.
The creation of a pool of low-interest loans by multiple financial institutions, thereby dispersing the
perceived risk, has been a successful strategy in many communities for early downtown housing
projects. Once the local market establishes the projects’ value and demand, institutions will be
more willing to independently finance projects. The Renaissance Group could play a strong role
in forming and administering such a consortium.
“Leveraged” Downtown Amenities
The future projects articulated in the Cedar Rapids Vision and Downtown Development Strategy
efforts highlight public improvements that will enhance the downtown environment for residents
and visitors alike. Critical to the success of the Downtown Housing Strategy will be its ability to
leverage private investment from these substantial public investments. As downtown amenities
are added and enhanced, and housing opportunities are capitalized on, this “leverage” will result
in increasing momentum for investment and reinvestment.
Improved Downtown “Infrastructure”
“Infrastructure” as it is referred to here includes physical features (parks and open space, public
improvements), service organizations (churches, schools, government offices), mix of employers
(retail, service, government – large and small users) and community attitudes toward downtown.
These assets which provide the framework for a downtown neighborhood need to be continually
protected (retained) and enhanced. All too often, a community focuses its efforts on the attraction
of new developments, rather than concentrating on preserving (retaining), growing (expanding)
and protecting its existing inventory.
Communication (Internal and External)
The last and equally important component of the strategy is an on-going communications program
that tells what Cedar Rapids is doing and more importantly, what Cedar Rapids is accomplishing.
This is essentially a public relations effort and involves communicating to the media, to the special
interest groups that make up the stakeholders, to Cedar Rapids families, to the development
community, to the lending and building community and to others that may help make the process
successful. Part of the “success breeds success” strategy is the communication of success as it
happens. This can only happen on a consistent basis if it is part of a planned communications
and public relations program.
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Building on the general strategies for downtown housing investment, Table 19 summarizes priority
actions which can be initiated by the City, as well as by Downtown Stakeholders.
CITY- AND STAKEHOLDER-INITIATED
City-Initiated Actions Stakeholder-Initiated Actions
Complete Regulatory Diagnosis Coordinate Lending Pools
Establish Incentives for Catalyst Prepare Design Standards
Identify City Designee to “Shepherd” Complete Neighborhood Service Analysis
Support Creation of Organizing/Holding Encourage Use of Historic Preservation
Entity Financing Mechanisms
Expand Passive and Active Spaces Coordinate Marketing and Promotion for
Acquire/Assemble Strategic Parcels Expand Downtown Events
Ensure Zoning Overlay Which Permits Initiate Discussions with Off-Site Vendors
Multiple Uses (including Multifamily and
Increase Resources (Type and Level)
A glossary of economic development tools and strategies that can be used in “readying the
environment” for downtown housing investment is presented in Table 20 at the end of this section.
These tools and strategies may not be directly tied to a housing initiative, but provide for the
further enhancement of the downtown neighborhood.
Lastly, as the Downtown Housing Strategy is implemented, marketing and investment efforts
should be guided by the following principles:
1. Downtown, as a whole, must be greater than the sum of its parts -- niche strategies must
be formulated to strengthen and link opportunities and infrastructure.
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2. Downtown’s neighborhood “infrastructure” (parks and open space, public improvements,
churches, schools, government offices, etc.) will be protected and enhanced.
3. Downtown housing investment efforts must be market-responsive, innovative and have
the capability to respond to a variety of opportunities.
4. Downtown’s “tool bag” must have many tools (financial, physical, market, organizational)
which can be used independently or in various combinations to attract investment.
5. Housing opportunity sites will be addressed as a “portfolio”, i.e., sites that require less
public assistance will support those that are more challenged and require greater
6. Public investment must “leverage” private investment.
7. Public-private partnerships are essential to the success of downtown housing investment
8. Solutions must be holistic and must address all barriers associated with a potential project
(market, physical, financial, and regulatory).
9. Effective stakeholder efforts must be coordinated & leveraged, preferably through a single
entity, locally supported and broadly representative of downtown stakeholders, which will
initiate and guide growth in the downtown marketplace.
10. Catalyst projects that address new market niches, create investment momentum, and
result in ancillary benefits to other Downtown stakeholders, will be publicly supported.
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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOOLS AND STRATEGIES
DOWNTOWN HOUSING STRATEGY
Advocacy Entity: Planning and management entities separate from Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) (Federal): Federal grants,
governmental agencies responsible for designated areas. Entity assumes administered through local or regional offices, designed to lower the overall
promotion of area, manages and coordinates its implementation, initiates cost of a project; projects must demonstrate the ability to improve the
actions to move area closer to its vision. Specific functions may include: economic conditions of an area.
acquire, assemble, hold and convey land to permit new forms of infill
development; facilitate targeted home rehabilitation loans; coordinate and Community Development Corporation (CDC): Nonprofit organizations
participate in real estate development and infrastructure financing; facilitate based in specific neighborhoods and subject to local governance. CDCs may
actions of public agencies responsible for government services; monitor traffic rehabilitate and build affordable housing for neighborhood residents, foster
issues and manage parking efficiently; monitor security matters; coordinate the local economic development, and provide an array of related social services.
dissemination of market information; establish fees, rates and charges for use of
property; and direct marketing and promotion. CDFIs - Community Development Financial Institutions: Networks of
federal banks, credit unions, and CDCs that target loans to redlined areas.
Affordable Housing Demonstration Project: Public-private effort whereby
public sector contributes land, financing, or the like, and private sector Community Reinvestment Act (CRA): Program under which federally-
(developer) contributes their expertise and money to joint development of an insured lending institutions are provided incentives to offer assistance with
affordable housing project; program is designed to educate delivery system development financing for local projects (particularly those in economically-
(property owners, developers, lenders, public officials, community at-large, etc.) distressed areas); assistance usually offered at a favorable rate; institutions
on “value” of developing product in the market. earmark a percent of their lending dollars for this program.
Brownfields: Contaminated former industrial and commercial lands – Concentrated Public Facilities: City investment in identified areas by
comprising a portion of sites that could be redeveloped. locating both facilities and publicly sponsored developments and amenities in
places where infill development is desired; result is a greater leverage of
Business Recruitment /Retention: Program, frequently administered by an public dollars through strategic investment, and ability to assist developer with
economic development entity, which assists with the recruitment (attraction) or financial pre-leasing requirements.
retention of business either into or within a designated area; program elements
might include financial assistance, regulatory assistance, and/or marketing. Cultural Arts Activities: Activities and programs which encourage use of the
arts in a designated area by a variety of participants.
Capital Improvement Plan (CIP): Dollars earmarked for improvement and
extension of infrastructure in municipalities. Cultural Tourism: Marketing and promotion of cultural and historic
community elements of interest to visitors to an area; a thriving industry for
Community Development Assistance (CDA) (State): Authorizes up to certain many areas of the east and south. Cultural tourism efforts generally originate
percent state tax credits to eligible contributors investing in approved community at a grass-roots level, but quickly require the assistance and coordinate of
projects; in certain instances applicants must meet economic distress criteria; municipal and state entities.
non-profit developers subject to limitations on per project tax credits.
Density Bonuses: Incentive offered to developers of projects that meet
specified goals (i.e., affordable housing, public spaces, transit, etc).
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TABLE 20 (CONT’D)
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOOLS AND STRATEGIES
DOWNTOWN HOUSING STRATEGY
Design Guidelines: Formal set of guidelines (with over-sight by a board Engage Elected Officials: Variety of methods by which elected officials are
comprised of area stakeholders, neighborhood representatives, and design engaged in planning and implementation efforts; improved communication
professionals) for use by investors doing projects within priority areas. between staff and elected officials. Note: This should be a common practice,
Guidelines address character and quality levels and frame discussions not project-specific.
Enterprise Zone: State-designated area where businesses located within
Design Standards: Formal set of standards (either administered through an them that make capital investments, hire new employees, contribute to
appointed design-review committee and/or municipal staff) for development economic development plans, rehabilitate old buildings and/or do research
which require certain development character and quality levels for the built and and development are provided a tax credit. An approach to revitalizing
natural environment. distressed areas by offering tax incentives, regulatory relief and improved
Developer RFPs: Request-for-Proposals from potential developers of projects
in designated areas. Selection of developer based on dollar amount of bid; Environmental Impact Reports (EIR)s: Used to assess environmental
quality of design; developer’s track record; and preferences of neighborhood impacts and determine mitigation measures needed for building a
residents. redevelopment plan, specific plan, or community plan. As projects are
identified, the City may be asked to conduct additional environmental reviews
Development Fee Waivers: Development fees are monetary charges on or focus on few identified areas.
development to recoup a portion of the capital and operating costs required to
accommodate a project. Note: Fees for sewer/water hook-ups, building permits, Façade Maintenance Program: Any program – local, state or federal –
processing fee, etc. can be waived or delayed until the developer sees a positive including low interest loans and/or grants – which encourages investment in,
cash flow as a means to encourage infill projects. and improvement to, building facades within a planning area. May also be
designed as a matching funds program, within a district, for building façade
Development Standard Waivers: During approvals process, City can grant maintenance.
waivers or variances for items including height limits, setbacks, density, lot
coverage, rear access, etc. Government Liaison: Individual or committee charged with establishing and
maintaining a dialogue between various branches of government (local,
Economic Development Administration (EDA) (Federal): Public entity which county, regional) regarding issues such as – intergovernmental agreements,
provides assistance in form of planning grants and construction financing - for regulatory reform, facilities planning, etc.
the development of projects in rural and urban locations which will result in the
creation of jobs for the community. Historic Preservation Investment Tax Credits (Federal): Percent of
rehabilitation costs of income-producing properties can be used as a tax
Educational Seminars: Programs hosted by a variety of entities (i.e., lender, credit which can be sold on the market.
developer, municipal, etc.) which promote an open dialogue among those
individuals and organizations which represent delivery system; can occur in a HOME: HOME Investment Partnership Program, whereby HUD allocates
variety of forums; purpose is to provide participants with various perspectives funds by formula among eligible state and local governments to strengthen
and an understanding of initiatives designed to facilitate development process. public-private partnerships and to expand the supply of decent, safe, sanitary
and affordable housing for very low-income families.
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TABLE 20 (CONT’D)
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOOLS AND STRATEGIES
DOWNTOWN HOUSING STRATEGY
Improvement District: Both an organizing and financing technique for area Leverage Infrastructure Funding to Support Private Money: Within a
revitalization. District provides stable stream of income for activities and predefined area, public investment for infrastructure located strategically to
projects considered special to area or in addition to general municipal services. leverage private investment.
Districts are vehicle for providing additional services for a fee and not to
substitute for services funded through traditional tax revenues. Limitations on Infrastructure Extensions: Method used in regional growth
management whereby efficient development patterns are rewarded.
Infill Development: Development of new homes, commercial and/or retail
buildings, and public facilities on unused or underused lands in existing Linked Deposits: Local development agencies and downtown development
communities. organizations use their bank deposits to leverage bank lending for activities
supported in the area. City or development agency deposits its funds in one
Infrastructure Cost Participation: Cost of infrastructure (either onsite or off- or several banks with provision that bank make loans in support of identified
site) shared by developer and/or property owner with an entity (public community objective. Note: In select instances, cities have foregone interest
(city/county), private (developer co-op), or semi-private organization which will on these deposits so that the bank can make loans at below market rates.
benefit from its availability – can be offered through a formal program or on a
case-by-case basis. Liquor License Restrictions: Limit on the number of liquor licenses which
issued in a designated area. Restrictions generally tied to businesses which
Land Assembly: Land assembled by public, private or non-profit entity in effort generate over a certain percent of their revenue from liquor sales. The
to position for development of larger projects. Assembly can happen through purpose being not to eliminate restaurants, but concentrations of bars.
purchases of properties, vacating and/or rerouting streets, alleys, etc.
Loan Pool (Lending Pools): Several lending organizations contributing
Land Donation/Write-Down: Property owner -- public (city/county), private financing to a project or projects, thus sharing risk. An amount of capital
(developer), or semi-private organization – contributes land to a project either as pledged by several entities for lending to businesses based on some agreed
a donation without an expected return, or at a reduced price. City-acquired upon goals or other criteria. Pledges can be in the form of loans, letters of
property through fee simple transactions and foreclosures are an obvious source commitment and stock purchases. Pool can be either organized formally or
for land contributions. on a case-by-case basis.
Land Swap: To develop specific infill site in specified way, potentially contrary Low Income Housing Tax Credits (State): Dollar for dollar reduction or
to existing property owner or developer, cities can offer an exchange of city- credit against an investor’s federal income tax liability on salary, wages,
owned land of similar value in alternate location. business, etc.; credit is treated like a cash payment or as a reduction against
the amount of tax owed; sale of tax credits by the developer contributes to
Level-of-Service: Roads within community are designed to meet specified project equity, thereby reducing developer’s out-of-pocket investment.
goals regarding mobility, connectivity, and regional planning and land use
development. Level-of-service is measure used to describe street standards Low Interest Loans/Subordination: Loans for construction, acquisition,
necessary to address role of the street. By adjusting level-of-service you operation, etc. are offered to qualifying individuals or organizations at a
address the tension between through-trips and access to activities and services preferred interest rate; subordination by a public (city/county), private (lender),
along the road (corridor). or semi-private organization of a loan provides a guarantee to the lending
organization that in the event of default debt service will be paid.
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TABLE 20 (CONT’D)
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOOLS AND STRATEGIES
DOWNTOWN HOUSING STRATEGY
Micro Loan Program: Offers small amounts of capital usually less than $2,500 Predevelopment Funding Grants: Financing for project expenses incurred
to very small businesses for wide range of capital needs including façade prior to construction, i.e., soft costs including consulting, design, engineering,
improvements, working capital and personal needs; provide loan guarantees. and planning, and marketing, etc. Note: The Economic Development
Downside: Excessive credit analysis and underwriting costs. Administration (EDA) has funds for predevelopment and construction costs.
Non-Profit Developer Support: Variety of financial and regulatory tools and Project Thresholds: Project size thresholds, predetermined and designed to
programs which streamline and reduce costs for “eligible projects” by “eligible allow smaller projects to be rapidly permitted, saving extensive reviews for
developers.” larger developments and environmentally sensitive sites.
Overlay Zone (i.e., historic, parking): Designated area superimposed on one Public Subordination: City/county provides a guarantee to the lending
or more existing zoning districts; designed to protect or enhance an area’s organization that, in the event of default, debt service will be paid.
special qualities; governmental review of all developments, with the power to
approve design according to standards contained in the ordinance or in a district Redevelopment: Restoration of existing buildings and properties blighted
plan or design guidelines; program elements include “bonuses” and and/or which diminish the character and function of a neighborhood including
“requirement adjustments.” adaptive use and historic preservation properties.
Regulatory Reform: Initiative by government entity to amend existing
Park-in-a-Park: Creative method by which parking is secondary to design and
regulatory documents to be responsive to prevailing market and economic
landscaping, giving visual appearance of cars in park rather than trees in a
conditions; examples might include: new or amended zoning designations,
planning approval process reform, updated comprehensive plan, etc.
Parking District: Designated area wherein parking design, development and
Reverse Mortgage: Low interest loan based on equity in home; particularly
management issues among multiple facilities are controlled by select entity
relevant for seniors.
beyond that provided for by standard municipal levels of service and control.
Revolving Loan Funds: Flexible funding in form of loans, guarantees and
Pedestrian Enhancements and Linkages: Various public, private and non-
interest subsidies to firms which further local development goals; designed to
profit initiatives to improve the pedestrian environment in a designated area,
alleviate high costs and short supply of capital for businesses, particularly
i.e., permanent and temporary streetscape elements, sidewalk widening,
small ones, or those located in distressed areas. Components include: lower
reduced speeds, etc. Resulting environment designed to accommodate needs
rates, longer terms; many capitalized by with federal funds combined with
of pedestrians, as well as through and destination traffic, by incorporating select
infrastructure improvements, design elements, and traffic management
mechanisms. Methods to achieve include: separating traffic through use of
Re-Zone Parcels: Either city-owned and initiated, or petition-based, through
parallel streets; limiting access points; linking parking lots; coordinating traffic
an organized effort initiated by the “advocacy entity” to enlist the support of
signals; adding alternative transportation lanes; widening sidewalks; providing
property owners within a designated area – request for a change in property
crosswalks; providing street lights and furniture; preventing “deadening” uses
zoning designation (to mixed-use); the objective is to provide landowners the
without building front; and incorporating transit stops.
incentive and economic strength to maintain and redevelop a high-quality
environment and react more swiftly to market trends.
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TABLE 20 (CONT’D)
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOOLS AND STRATEGIES
DOWNTOWN HOUSING STRATEGY
Sales Tax Sharing: Future sales from a development can be rebated to Tax Exempt Bond Financing: Method of financing long-term debt issued by
developer to pay for infrastructure - city/county agrees to split sales tax revenue government whereby bondholders need not include interest payments on
with developer, then developer uses to pay for infrastructure. taxable income.
School Programs: Programs (i.e., essays, art, civic participation) which Tax Increment Financing (TIF): A district obtains funds from increases in
encourage the involvement of students in a designated area. regular tax revenues that arise from new development in the district;
incremental increase in tax revenues over designated base year revenues is
Self-Certification Program: Contractors assume responsibility for inspecting diverted to a special fund; diversion of regular tax revenues rather than
and certifying the correct completion of their own work. Quality is assured by additional fees to generate revenue for district investments. Can be used in
random spot checks; contractors who cheat lose their licenses. conjunction with municipal bond issues whereby increment is pledged to
repayment of the bond issue, or actual increase allocated to an administering
Signature Project: Public-private effort whereby public sector contributes land, agency directly to finance redevelopment activities.
financing, or the like, and private sector (developer) contributes their expertise
and money to joint development of a significant project within a designated Transfer of Development Rights (TDR): Ability to transfer property
planning area; program is designed to encourage development of project which entitlements from one property to another when one of the parcels is located
will serve as a catalyst for additional investment. in a designated development area.
Smart Growth: Growth management program which combines incentives, Transit-Supportive Land Use: Land uses and land use forms supportive of
disincentives, and traditional planning techniques to promote a pattern of growth alternative forms of transportation. Typical elements include: high-density
that achieves economic, environmental, and quality-of-life objectives. residential, employment uses, commercial developments and public spaces.
Streamlined Development Approval: Initiative by government entity to Turnkey Facilities: Buildings, frequently institutional, developed (and some
facilitate a timely approvals process for (re)development projects meeting times managed) by a private entity for another entity. Benefits to developer
certain criteria. Also referred to as a “green-tape” permitting program. Critical include a developer fee, management fee, position in the project, etc.
elements of program: 1) streamlined permit and entitlement process; 2) greater
predictability; and, 3) fairness in fees and exactions. Components: 1) appointed Urban Renewal: Tool used for purpose of eliminating slum or blighted areas
case manager; 2) consolidated permit process; 3) waived or reduced fees; 4) within municipality, and positioning areas for development or redevelopment.
reduced number of changes to previously approved plans; 5) stoppage to the Actions under urban renewal include demolition of structures; construction of
issuance of conflicting requirements by different departments; 6) a single public infrastructure and public spaces; sale of property; and, relocation of
hearing; 7) streamlined environmental review process. businesses and residents.
Tax Abatement: Taxing entity (usually the city) abates or reduces a portion of Underground Utilities: City works with local utility and cable companies to
tax burden; this can happen in the form of an adjusted on an individual property place all utility lines underground; maintenance, weather-related repairs, and
basis, or in an abatement zone. service disruption costs are reduced. City also encourages low-rate programs
to assist developers with burying utility infrastructure.
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