The (Place) Doctor Will See You Now

February 9, 2017

How a small town in Oregon used a data-driven, analytical approach towards putting policies in place to increase their economic and environmental resiliency.

Decisions, Decisions!

Ok, so now you have your priorities straight! But how does that get translated into a plan? How do you know the actual impact of a planning proposal? How do you know it's achieving your aims? How do you evaluate all of those proposals that are coming in response to your RFP? How do you know if your Masterplan is indeed "masterful!" Well, that's exactly what the State of Place scenario analysis helps you figure out!

Cities and developers can pull the State of Place data for an existing block and make changes to the existing conditions based on the proposed plan you are evaluating. Or you can simply play with the data and make changes - like hey, I want to add some benches and trees here - and see how that would impact the State of Place Index and Profile.

In the case of Tigard, we modeled three different development projects for them, including a proposal they had for their Downtown, their Masterplan, and a small building site, for which both a traditional medical office building and a mixed-use version of that building had been proposed.

Below are the results of the scenario analysis for the third project.

Proposed Development Project #1: Medical Center

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Medical Center Image

Proposed Development Project #2: Mixed-used Building

The second development scenario included the medical center along with a mixed-use residential and commercial building. The building is a three-story structure, with approximately 2,600 SF of ground-floor commercial followed by two stories of residential units totaling approximately 8,300 SF and 8 units. The site layout includes 14 standard, 10 compact, and 1 ADA-compliant parking space, as well as a 24-foot drive aisle and 30-foot driveway skirt with direct access to SW Gonzaga St. Landscaping is proposed along the property boundary, as well as additional street tree treatment to the building portion that fronts SW Gonzaga St.

As you can see, the second mixed-use scenario had a significantly higher impact on the State of Place Index and Profile! Now, while cities pretty much know this intuitively, there's something that's really powerful about bringing data to the table, and highly visualized data at that - along with of course the pretty rendering! A data-driven picture is worth 1000 words!

Show Me the Money - Or at Least the Why.

Ok, so you've got your diagnosis (Index & Profile). You've got your prescription (Priorities). And you have a prognosis (Scenario Analysis)! Now what? I know, I know, you still have to deal with...the NIMBYS!! And they are everywhere. It's not just residents. Naysayers come in various shapes and sizes! Traffic engineers. City managers. The County! Electeds. Property Owners. Developers. Did I miss anyone? Everyone has their own interests. Their own agendas. So how do you convince them - without entering the never-ending meeting twilight zone?! Well, while the scenario analysis feature sets you up for this nicely, we've learned along the way that in addition to data, money also talks - or at least helps explain why it makes sense to invest in better places or choose the slightly more expensive mixed-use redevelopment option (e.g., like in Tigard) than the conventional single-use alternative. And of course, it actually helps to identify the kinds of projects that indeed will be more cost-effective - remember those tight purse strings we were talking about earlier (although I probably don't have to remind you).

So Tigard supplied information about their real estate market baselines - office rents, retail rents and revenues, residential rents and for-sale values, their estimated project costs, and the square footages for each of the new land uses being created for both scenarios. Based on the forecasting model we mentioned earlier, we estimated the real estate premiums tied to the increase in the State of Place Index in the single use vs. mixed-use scenario;  the value captured from those premiums+baselines over time (10 yrs) based on the total square footage of the new buildings that would be developed (i.e., (premium + baseline) x project area x 10); and the return on investment (ROI) based on the project cost (i.e., value captured/project cost). You can clearly see the upside - both from a livability/walkability perspective and from an economic perspective of the mixed-use scenario. This is the kind of analysis that will indeed help Tigard move further toward its vision to become the most walkable city in the Pacific Northwest! Go Tigard!!!

Tigard Forecast Analysis

Thank You For the (Customer) Love!

As we've mentioned here and previously, we really love our customers! It's because of them that we can help make better places. We're just honored they're allowing us to come with them on their placemaking adventures and are capitalizing on our data geekiness to help them along their journey. But don't take it from us - hear it direct from the horse's mouth! Check out what the ever-meticulous, spectacularly helpful, Lloyd Purdy, Tigard's Economic Development Manager, had to say about State of Place!

“State of Place helped us with the long-term strategic vision for Tigard Triangle. It helped our long-term planners to think critically about where we should invest in... We have been using it and we’ll continue to integrate that in our planning, our economic development, and even in our infrastructure development."
— Lloyd Purdy, Economic Development Manager, City of Tigard (Portland Metro)

Woah, that was a lot - of (helpful and interesting) information (we hope)! If you stuck around this long, that likely means you now realize, yes, I've been to "Tigard" - maybe you are a Tigard! And I hope it also means you think we GET your pain! But you don't have to keep suffering! We want to KNOW your specific pain and talk about whether State of Place could help ease it the way it did for Tigard! And, you kinda have a leg up - since our new (and improved) platform will be launched at the end of this month! We already have three new (super cool!) early adopters - Tigards, if you will - anxiously awaiting the release of the new software! So, come "see" us - the doctor is always in (I had way too much fun with this blog - sorry, return from (mini) vacation brain!). No, seriously, we'd love to chat! Book a time with us and tell us your Tigard story or request a preview of the software!

This article, was written by Mariela Alfonzo, Ph.D, and was originally published at State of Place

Mariela has over 15 years of expertise in the field of urban design and behavior research. In 2014, Mariela was recognized as one of Urban Land Institute’s 40 under 40 best young land use professionals around the globe. In 2013, Dr. Alfonzo was awarded a Fulbright to examine walkability in China

State of Place is the manifestation of our passion - we quantify what people love about cities and why it makes economic sense to make them better. We help cities make the data-driven case for great places - to quell the naysayers - residents, developers, traffic engineers, elected officials - so they can get their visions approved, attract more people and firms, and enhance their economic competitiveness.

Our vision is to fundamentally disrupt this pervasive mentality:
"Do as I say because I "know" I'm right"
"Do as he says because of who he is"
"Do as they did because look how cool what they did is"

And replace this ideologically-based expert-driven approach accessible only to a few, with an evidence-based data-driven one accessible to the many. State of Place isn’t just moneyballing city-making, we are leveling the playing field.

Cover Image by Thomas Boyd / The Oregonian

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