CDS Community Development Strategies
Of course, actual Urban Equilibrium can only be realized in our imaginations. But the vision of a balanced real estate environment can be useful as a goal. Attainment may always be out of reach, but there can be benefits in the pursuit. Proactively setting and pursuing development goals--no matter how unrealistic--is preferable to having local government policies that are reactionary and outdated.
The following six steps can help your city reach Urban Equilibrium.
1. Step one, begin by developing a database that describes the demographic, social, and employment make-up of the city. What are your housing needs, shopping needs for retail goods and services, office and industrial needs for the business community? Understanding the economic background and capability of the resident population is critical in determining the amount and type of development that is needed to satisfy your existing population.
2. Step two, identify the catalysts, trends, and other factors that influence how the database will change over time. Which major employers are growing and adding jobs? What events and local attractions are bringing in visitors? Are target industries actually attracted to your community? What percent of local employees commute from other communities? Are college graduates returning or do they go elsewhere to find employment? How will these and other factors impact the database defined in step one?
4. The fourth step is the most critical: define the of deficiencies and gaps in the development supply and demand. Where are the holes and the mismatches? Putting all the findings together may not be simple. What does it mean when we find anomalies such as 100 percent occupancies, increasing vacancies, or long-standing inventories in certain price ranges or locations? What is the back story behind each of these situations? There is usually more than meets the eye. The idea is not only to determine where there are needs but why. And are the motivating circumstances likely to be permanent or just unusual aberrations that will abate with time?
5. Step five involves setting goals and priorities. Be forward looking in determining the best methods for filling the gaps and preparing for a more balanced future. Market forces will provide clear signals if stakeholders are given a means to communicate. Find ways to include all socioeconomic sectors in the visioning process. The challenge will be to differentiate between real community needs and perceived inconveniences. Once priorities have been established, a pragmatic working plan with a clear outline of action is essential. At this point its better to be realistic than idealistic. Achieving small but reachable goals over ten years is better than envisioning grand goals over 40 years.
6. Step six is also the next several steps, to be taken periodically. Revisit the programs each year, revise the plan as necessary, and benchmark the progress. Without constant monitoring, imbalances will quickly return. The path is long-term and never-ending as it leads toward the ideal city that can be envisioned but never quite reached. The effort is worthwhile because even small amounts of progress equate to recognizable accomplishments that contribute to a healthy and resilient community.
About the Author: Kent Dussair founded CDS in 1971 for the purpose of providing professional market and economic research and consulting services. With over 50 years of professional experience, Kent continues to help CDS implement and evaluate effective qualitative research.