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Thread: Rooftops bring business, but business brings rooftops....which is right

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Rooftops bring business, but business brings rooftops....which is right

    The whole ED thing, especially in certain retail segments like groceries seems a chicken and egg argument.

    So, lets put it out there: Should the focus be on getting rooftops and those sorts of things will follow? OR, should the focus be on attracting business in order to bring rooftops as a quality of life issue?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Business (in this definition I mean JOBS); then more houses; then retail, service etc...Its too difficult to attract rooftops without jobs unless they are available in some sense in the region. Retail is almost always going to follow last.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    It is tough....welcome to rural economic development. Retail does follow roof tops. Although retail does add to quality of life it does little for the economic health of the community unless sales tax is king...like here in AZ. Full service grocery stores look for at least 5,000 households in a the 1 mile trade area. In rural areas they are willing to expand the trade area but market share becomes more of an issue.

    As for attracting business you need a highly skilled workforce now-a-days to be competitive unless you are willing to house some of the dirtier types of industries or smaller projects. Many industries have learned the lesson of call centers locating in rural areas where they have employed most the locals and are now having trouble filling vacant positions. Cheap land and a load of tax incentives does help but with 15,000 economic development groups working on attraction how does your community stand out?

    I have always supported BRE more than attraction. It is usually cheaper to expand an existing location rather than build a new one.

    As for attracting residents I am not sure what to tell you. A diverse housing stock and cheaper homes than the surrounding area does help. Are their natural amenities like a lake, hunting ground, national or state park...something unique that you can market?
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  4. #4
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    As Colo's Front Range is finding out (again), rooftops are great, but they cost money - Cost of Community Services for residential being greater than 1.

    You can bridge the gap for a while with permits and fees, but when they run out (or the economy slows), what then? At least for now, property tax is still out of the question so we turn to retail sales tax, which is a sliver of the operating revenue, and taxes on commercial property. Hopefully a place's revenue stream is sufficiently diverse to have a number of different revenue sources; if not, make it so before doing high growth.

    In my mind job proximity is an amenity that should come first (and hopefully you won't subsidize them with tax abatement) and retail will come when the rooftops are there (and hopefully you won't subsidize them with tax abatement). Folks who will only come with incentives are the type that aren't genuinely interested in the community and should be treated with caution.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan Staley View post
    Folks who will only come with incentives are the type that aren't genuinely interested in the community and should be treated with caution.
    In today's footloose industrial and commercial culture if you are not prepared to offer tax incentives then you should be prepared to not land employers. Like it or not its how the game is played. However, retail should not receive incentives except in extreme circumstances.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

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    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Its not so much that adding people is the concern. There is access to a good sized metro area within 7 miles that has all the usual commercial choices; big box including large grocers, restaurants, etc. If the town was slightly more isolated it would have more than it does now.

    I do think making the downtown healthy is a quality of life issue. I don't advocate residential development for development's sake. I am not against it, I just want to see it well thought out and placed and it will come when it comes. My main goal is always quality of life, and that may or may not include quantity.

    But, it seems we may have to wait until we do indeed have more rooftops to see more of this stuff. I believe we have more chance at some warehouse and light industrial because we have good hard surface road access and rail than we do getting much retail base.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    rooftops

    Chicken/egg is right.

    Seems like growth used to be mostly jobs/employment driven, a la typical "boomtown".

    In our area it has been mostly bedroom communities serving various kinds of "flight", flight from taxes, flight from crowded or wrong color school populations. Get enough flight satellites and big boxes come to meet them. Trouble is big boxes don't come till density/ergo traffic gets pretty snarly.

    The very idea of planning is just beginning to dawn on the sprawl laden Atlanta megalopolis.

    I'm not a planner but what I see lacking most in residential development is sidewalks. Here developers just howl at the very idea. Time was sidewalks were routine, with service allies at the back. Time was every individual was not expected to have a car.

    I don't see much light on our path unless we can figure out how to keep some kind of manufacturing base. Somebody has to make something. We can't all just buy stuff and deliver pizzas to each other.

    Just my 2 cents.

  8. #8
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    In today's footloose industrial and commercial culture if you are not prepared to offer tax incentives then you should be prepared to not land employers. Like it or not its how the game is played. However, retail should not receive incentives except in extreme circumstances.
    Agreed. My point, which could have been clearer, is incentives first folks are different than community first. And the issue of tax incentives makes everyone else pay more, and one should be careful.

    And, what fringe said.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian vagaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hawkeye66 View post
    The whole ED thing, especially in certain retail segments like groceries seems a chicken and egg argument.

    So, lets put it out there: Should the focus be on getting rooftops and those sorts of things will follow? OR, should the focus be on attracting business in order to bring rooftops as a quality of life issue?
    It could be either way, but most retailers will tell you that rooftops must be there first before they will consider locating in the area. The city where I work has about 2,500 residential lots that are in the advanced stages of developement (i.e. at least preliminary approval). Our major focus right now is a grocery store, then there are also several other commercial prospects just waiting on the grocery store to be built.

    I would say typically, rooftops are required to support the commercial business.
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Mass employeers bring rooftops.
    example: A tire plant moves into town with 200 job openings. New homes will pop up.

    Rooftops bring retail.
    Now that there are 200 new workers in town the first business to open up is either a Subway or a Pizza Hut. Then everyone else follows.
    @GigCityPlanner

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hawkeye66 View post
    The whole ED thing, especially in certain retail segments like groceries seems a chicken and egg argument.

    So, lets put it out there: Should the focus be on getting rooftops and those sorts of things will follow? OR, should the focus be on attracting business in order to bring rooftops as a quality of life issue?
    It all depends...much like every other answer in Planning

    If you have a downtown or satellite city that has a job to housing balance that is out of whack and too high on employment; then you will see jobs creating housing.

    If you have a redeveloping corridor or a near abandoned downtown; then you will need to get more roof tops and possibly more people with disposable income so that you can attact a different type of commercial stock.

    There is no single easy answer. You need to analyze what is happening in your community before people can give blanket advice in regards to these types of phenomenon.
    Satellite City Enabler

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by fringe View post
    We can't all just buy stuff and deliver pizzas to each other.
    Slightly off topic but...I'm going to make this my Facebook quote. This is probably the best summation of the failures of a post-industrial economy I've ever seen.

  13. #13

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    WHICH COMES FIRST HOUSING OR JOBS

    As one of the owners of a residential building company, I have asked this question of planning people. Everyone has an opinion on the subject. The response I hear the most is that when companies come to visit a community as the possible location for their company/division/operation, they look to see if their is adequate housing stock (amount and type). If the answer is no, they keep looking. If the answer is yes, the site makes the short list. No executive is going to pick a tired old town with lousy housing for the location of their facilities. The people they recruit (and possibly they themselves) have to live there. Imagine trying to recruit and or transfer good people to an unappealing location. The consultants we know, tell the counties, townships, and villages that they must fix housing first before they have a chance competiting for new business.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by EFANNING View post
    As one of the owners of a residential building company, I have asked this question of planning people. Everyone has an opinion on the subject. The response I hear the most is that when companies come to visit a community as the possible location for their company/division/operation, they look to see if their is adequate housing stock (amount and type). If the answer is no, they keep looking. If the answer is yes, the site makes the short list. No executive is going to pick a tired old town with lousy housing for the location of their facilities. The people they recruit (and possibly they themselves) have to live there. Imagine trying to recruit and or transfer good people to an unappealing location. The consultants we know, tell the counties, townships, and villages that they must fix housing first before they have a chance competiting for new business.
    Housing stock is a factor but not the primary factor...in fact it rarely makes the top 5. Workforce cost and availability, freeway access, etc are far more important and I have never heard of a site that was number one in every category other than executive housing being passed on. According to Area Development Magazine the top 5 selection criteria for 2007 were:
    1. Labor Cost
    2. Freeway Access
    3. Corporate Tax Rate
    4. State and Local Incentives
    5. Availability of Telecom Service

    The reason housing tends to come first is you need a workforce to supply the people for the jobs.

    I do agree with your consultant since it is something that can be fixed. I would focus more on broadband and trying to increase the skills of the workers. As for a place being undesirable , that is in the eye of the beholder. I know many people and execs that would never work for the offices in NYC and LA while others would never work for the offices in rural MI and IL. Its all a matter of opinion.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

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