But will they seize it?
(Did anyone go to the open house last night? There's another one tonight! Interestingly there doesn't seem to be an article in the paper about it.)
|Mid-rise downtown development generates 10x|
property tax/acre over suburban big box sprawl
(see bottom for notes on image credit)
But if a facility is built on land that is currently on the property tax rolls, taking the land off the rolls creates an opportunity cost: What is the property tax the City will forgo if it builds on land that is currently private? (Also: What other costs will the City incur by building on this land?)
And what is the range of property taxes that such a private development might have generated?
Almost two years ago a commenter highlighted this kind of question, and it's an analysis we need more of!
The analysis origates at Strong Towns, and they have thought a good bit about it. They have compared property taxes per acre on a big box store, a mid-rise downtown building, and a single-family house. What might be most surprising is that the value/acre of the house exceeds the value of the big box store!
This points to one of the flaws in the argument for Eugene's $17M police facility. According to proponents of this, the Eugene Police chief already said that it was a significant compromise:
The Eugene Police Chief is very pleased with his $17 million new 65,000 sq.ft. building and his 210 secure parking spaces. He says on YouTube it "is a perfect solution". Look it up. He said "ideally they would be downtown" but that would be "twice the cost to achieve".I don't know about you, but I read this utterance of "perfect" not as meaning "surpassingly excellent," but as the sort of thing you say when your host asks, "would you like a glass of wine?" and upon bringing some Two-Buck-Chuck, you say "Perfect. Thanks." The wine is just fine. It does the job, more than meets the floor of your requirements: It's technically sound, unflawed commodity wine. But Two-Buck Chuck is far from the literal meaning of "perfection." This use of "perfect" conveys a different and colloquial meaning for "perfect."
And you may remember that back in December 2011, in a public report to City Council, staff talked about hidden costs
the subcommittee also discussed the additional annual operational costs that would arise from moving the Police Department to an offsite location. Operational cost increases would include considerable additional labor and fleet expenses for Police staff travelling back and forth to the Civic Center for court and meetings with other City departments. Other City staff would also require additional travel and fleet expenses to meet with Police at their new facility and there would be an incremental increase in facility maintenance costs for a new remote facility compared to a facility located close to other City buildings....The subcommittee found that the increased operational costs and overall benefit of the central Civic Center site outweighed the increased initial capital cost of construction.So it is important to remember: Eugene's solution takes a building off the tax rolls and adds operational costs.
In general, I think a discount solution in Salem is going to harbor hidden costs - just like ways the Kroc Center or the big box store on a green field development harbor hidden costs and fail to bring all the jobs, property taxes, and local prosperity they seemed to promise.
Now, critics are right to ask questions. The City should give more detail about the magnitude of additional operational costs at rejected sites as well seize this opportunity to talk about the ways different uses of land generate different magnitudes of value.
We don't need the First Growth or Grand Cru of Police Stations - but isn't there a solid value proposition somewhere in the middle that's not like Two-Buck-Chuck or Big Box Discount Retail?
So, City of Salem: Here's your chance to talk about the ways different urban forms in the central city offer more than just more density! Talk about the prosperity bonus from higher density and mixed-uses, ok? Talk about ways that low-density suburban development generates much less value. And talk about the ways the Civic Center is not good placemaking, and how changes there might help things.
|A rhyme with our Civic Center atrium?|
ZGF design for Army Corps of Engineers HQ in Seattle
Remember, the second of four upcoming open houses is tonight!
- November 13, 2013 5:30-7 p.m., Center 50+, 2615 Portland Road NE
- November 20, 2013, 6-7:30 p.m., South Salem High School Library, 1910 Church St. SE
- January 6, 2014, 6-7:30 p.m., Roth's West Salem, 1130 Wallace Rd. NW
- last night, November 12, 2013, 6-7:30 p.m., Council Chambers, 555 Liberty Street SE
(The slide is from at Marohn/Minicozzi presentation to a North Carolina local government association, like our MWVCOG. The presentation is long, about 12mb and 150+ slides. Lots of it is not necessarily relevant to Salem or Oregon. If you're interested, though, you can download it here.)