Analysis Shows Mixed-Use Downtown Development Best Land-Use Form for Local Government Pockets

A recent analysis undertaken by Public Interest Projects, a real estate development firm located in Asheville, NC, and under the direction of the Sarasota County Planning Department, found that dense mixed-use development generates far more tax revenues than any other land use in their county.

Sarasota County and Public Interest Projects considered the tax revenue per acre that was generated by existing and varying development forms such as big box stores, single family developments, a high-end shopping mall and mixed-use developments. There was no question about the results, as local governments were found to have received far superior tax revenues per year from the county’s mixed-use buildings, which also existed on far less land than all other analyzed development forms.

Big box retail stores – Wal-Marts, Costcos and the like – generated (in Sarasota) $8,350 per acre, which astonishingly is only a couple of hundred dollars more per acre than the average single family home located inside the county’s municipality.

The analysis also considered an existing and well-performing, high-end shopping mall in the county – an assumed easy ticket to garner tax revenues. This was found to generate about three times what the big box store did, approximately $22,000 per acre per year.

But the most notable land use generator was the higher-density, mixed-use buildings in the county. Sarasota County looked at a high-rise (17-story) mixed use building that contained ground floor retail, some floors for office space and upper-level condos, located in Sarasota’s downtown. Situated on just .75 acres, the property produces more than $1 million ($1.01) in city and county property taxes annually.

Similarly, the analysis found that a mid-rise (7-9 stories) mixed-use building brings in between $500,000 to $800,000 per year. Two-to-three story mixed-use buildings located downtown also performed better than the big-box, single-family neighborhoods and well-performing mall. These developments were found to generate $70,000 – $90,000 per acre.

Comparable analysis done for locations in North Carolina indicated similar trends. When comparing revenues from suburban and urban properties in Asheville, North Carolina, Public Interest Projects found that moderate density (6-story) mixed-use buildings located downtown generate $330,000 per acre per year, compared to the local Wal-Mart which produces $50,000 per acre.

While tax revenues alone should not decide whether or not a proposed development is suitable for a community, the analysis done by Sarasota County and Public Interest Projects is a strong demonstrator of just one of the reasons why and how to efficiently do more to invest in our existing downtowns and centers, while consuming far less land and simultaneously creating healthier, livable, desirable environments.

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