Thursday, July 31, 2014

Just like here, this development is anything but.

Over and over again, local governments tell us public investment in and making exceptions for chain stores and larger out-of-state businesses is the only way to develop a town or city. New Albany is no different. But it doesn't work and we know it doesn't work. Cities just keep doing it anyway, pouring money into no and low return "investments" while others do the public heavy lifting for less.

Posting examples repeatedly gets tiring but, for the sake of sport, here's another.
The Taco John's of Buffalo by Jordan Then (Strong Towns)  
As you can see, the older buildings have a value 212% higher per square foot than the new Walgreens. The city collects $51,284 dollars in property tax on the older buildings compared to $26,013 from the new Walgreens. The older buildings also contain 15 businesses and an unknown number of second story apartments, which enhance the overall walkability of the neighborhood, while the blank wall of the Walgreens provides nothing for pedestrians.

Given the innumerable examples - what some may call "evidence" - it's at least somewhat heartening to see an analyst, in this case Aaron Renn, taking the question to those who tend not to like them.
Do Cities Really Want Economic Development? by Aaron M. Renn (Governing)
A poor economy and all the problems that come with it actually benefit some people, giving powerful players less incentive to improve the status quo for the rest. 
Jane Jacobs took it even further. As she noted in The Economy of Cities, “Economic development, whenever and wherever it occurs, is profoundly subversive of the status quo.” And it isn’t hard to figure out that even in cities and states with serious problems, many people inside the system are benefiting from the status quo. 
They have political power, an inside track on government contracts, a nice gig at a civic organization or nonprofit, and so on. All of these people, who are disproportionately in the power broker class of most places, potentially stand to lose if economic decline is reversed. That’s not to say they are evil, but they all have an interest to protect.

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