Infrastructure and amenities for all ages
Thursday, May 09, 2019
While downtowns are inherently attractive to many demographics, the existing infrastructure may not accommodate the needs of all age groups. Downtowns offer unique architecture and affordable spaces that are well suited to all types of uses, but properties that have not been well-maintained or recently renovated require both inspiration and capital to translate existing spaces into move-in-ready apartments and retail storefronts. Not only are these projects potentially costlier than opening in a newer white-box space, they also require more know-how, since building code and occupancy changes inject significant variability into the process.
Communities can facilitate locally driven renovation of downtown projects in several ways, including both technical and financial assistance. Many options exist for support of residential options downtown, such as Historic Preservation Tax Credits for renovation of existing spaces, new Opportunity Zone Tax Credits or various locally initiated programs, or through the development of new infill senior, affordable or market-rate units that are cropping up in communities of all sizes. For existing buildings, identifying a municipal staffer to serve as a liaison for renovation projects can reduce cost and risk, removing a common source of frustration. Similarly, more than 40 percent of property owners who undertook a renovation project relied on one or more local financing programs to facilitate the project in the short term, making municipal lending an effective tool for promoting investment.