Posts on Community Development

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  • Community Development through EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program

    Many of the local governments we assist at the Environmental Finance Center struggle to raise enough money to support their environmental services. Often, we work with these communities to improve the finance and management of their systems through better rate setting, cost controls, and long-term planning. But another solution [more…]

  • Periodic Inspections, Permits, and Registration of Residential Rental Property: Changes in 2017

    Local governments establish residential rental property inspection, permit, and registration (IPR) programs to ensure that residential rental properties within their jurisdictions are maintained in a safe and decent condition. In recent years, the General Assembly has sought to protect code-compliant landlords from what legislators perceived as overly zealous IPR [more…]

  • Policy, Sports, and Economic Impact

    With the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend now behind us, it seems relevant to reflect on the impact state policy can have on economic and real estate development in cities and towns. NBA All-Star Weekend, an event held annually to highlight the skills and abilities of the best and most [more…]

  • What is the “special character” of the historic district?

    After a city or county establishes a historic district or historic landmark, the local historic preservation commission is authorized to prevent certain changes that “would be incongruous with the special character of the landmark or district.”  But, what is the special character? And what is incongruous with it?  This [more…]

  • Community Resilience Has Many Faces…Part 2

    The research project on community and regional resilience at the School of Government aims to help communities think differently about how they prepare for disasters and how they can become more resilient, providing data and information that can spark realistic conversations about a community’s future.  This blog looks at [more…]

  • What’s Old is New Again: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

    The granny cottage, in-law suite, or guest apartment, among its various names, might seem like a quaint relic of the past. But proponents are touting the Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) as the new frontier of housing development in an era of rising demand for diverse housing stock. Ranging in [more…]

  • Solar Power Heating Up in Commercial Real Estate

    The cost of installing solar panels has been in steady decline since 2010, and the residential market for solar panel installations on home roofs is experiencing rapid growth. With growing demand and several policy incentives for solar installations, incorporating solar power into real estate development projects can be an [more…]

  • Local Governments and Non-Profits: Building Community Through Partnership

    NBC News recently aired a short feel-good story during its Nightly News broadcast about a code enforcement officer working for the City of Petaluma, California. Joe Garcia had received multiple complaints about a dilapidated home surrounded by overgrown weeds. Clearly the home was out of compliance, and so the natural [more…]

  • One City, Two Public Markets: Case Studies of Success and Failure in Portland, Maine

    Public Markets are often used as a tool in downtown revitalization. They are attractive uses for vacant building with large footprints and bring high value and high-demand local food options to consumers, drive foot traffic, and catalyze new development. In the last 20 years, Portland, Maine, has seen two [more…]

  • Biophilic Design, Part III: Cities

    Biophilic design offers solutions in the face of a world that is quickly urbanizing and taxing our health, our wallets, and our environment. Compared with more rural settings, urban environments make people more stressed, do greater harm to the environment, and cost their taxpayers more money. There are costs [more…]

  • Does affordable housing negatively impact nearby property values?

    Despite public perceptions of affordable housing negatively impacting nearby property values, there is evidence to suggest that the impact is minimal if at all. Trulia, an online residential real estate site, recently conducted a study indicating that low-income housing tax credit (read more on LIHTC here) projects have no [more…]

  • The Birth of a New Federal Water and Wastewater Financing Program — WIFIA Arrives

    What is WIFIA? WIFIA stands for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, the name of the federal act that authorized an interesting new federally managed water and wastewater infrastructure funding mechanism. WIFIA includes both direct loans and a new credit enhancement/guarantee mechanism (more on WIFIA guarantees in a [more…]

  • Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Areas

    The Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area (NRSA) designation was established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1995. The intent of the program is to address economic development and housing needs within economically disadvantaged communities. To achieve NRSA status, a municipality must file an application in [more…]

  • Current Positive Economic News? Cheer, Then Take a Breath and Look Deeper at the Divided NC Economy

    There have been numerous national reports of positive economic information over the past six months. Unemployment is low, economic growth is steady and even growing, jobs are being created and 10 years later, we are finally moving beyond the devastating impacts of the recession. It would appear that CED [more…]

  • Community Resilience Has Many Faces… Part 1

    The 2016 Disaster Recovery Act was signed into law in December 2016 and provides over $200 million to help recovery after Hurricane Matthew and the wildfires in western North Carolina. This appropriation is intended to cover needs not met by Federal disaster recovery funds allocated to the state in [more…]

  • Interim Evaluation of HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD)

    RAD, or the Rental Assistance Demonstration program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), may not be as radical in its approach to preserving low-income housing as its acronym suggests, but an interim evaluation of the pilot program indicates it shows promise.

  • Reshaping Suburban Spaces

    There is no constant in community. Population ebbs and flows; market preferences shift; the economy fluctuates. Each community evolves. In many suburban places across North Carolina—indeed, across the U.S.—that evolution includes a move toward more density, more mixed uses, and more connected neighborhoods. Communities are grappling with questions about [more…]

  • Biophilic Design, Part II: Case Study

    Note: This is the second of three blog posts on biophilic design, a design philosophy that seeks to incorporates nature into man-made spaces. Part 1 introduced the topic of biophilic design. This post, Part 2, discusses a case study on biophilic design. Part 3 will explore the idea of [more…]

  • The Power of Partnership: The Case of the NC Commerce Park in Alamance County

    The N.C. Commerce Park in Alamance County, North Carolina is an economic development success story that underscores how vital interlocal and regional collaboration is for community and economic development. It highlights the power of partnership and also the importance of local leaders that share a collaborative mindset.

  • Strengthening Resilience in North Carolina’s Communities

    Hurricane Matthew and its aftermath underscore the urgent need to find ways to encourage communities to think differently about how they prepare for disasters and how they can become more resilient. Part of this is having data and information that can spark realistic conversations about a community’s future.  Another [more…]

  • The Smart Growth Program in North Carolina

    In September, my colleague Glenn Barnes shared resources from EPA on “smart growth” economic development. This approach to economic develop helps protect human health and the natural environment, while making communities more attractive, economically stronger, and more socially diverse. Smart Growth can take many different forms, from planning and zoning [more…]

  • The Past, Present, and Future of Wood Construction

    Did you know that the world’s oldest wooden structure is found in Japan, the Horyu Temple, and has managed to withstand rain, wind, and earthquakes for over 1,300 years? Although wood construction dates all the way back to Stone Age! For thousands of years’ humans have relied on wood [more…]

  • The Tortoise, the Hare, and Demolition in Historic Districts

    A few blocks from downtown in the town’s historic district sit two houses built in the early twentieth century: the Hare House and the Tortoise House. The houses retain their historic elements and contribute to the architectural character of the neighborhood. While the houses have seen better days, they [more…]

  • Historic Mill Redevelopment: Taylors Mill

    In this post, CED will continue to look at the impact that redevelopment of historic mills can have on local communities. In previous posts the CED blog examined how historic tax credits can help finance adaptive reuse projects like the Renfro Mill and Monroe Hardware Warehouse. This post will take a closer look [more…]

  • North Carolina Education and Workforce Development: Work Ready Communities

    A powerful common denominator between economic development and human capital development is education. Communities with well-regarded schools incentivize businesses to be recruited to an area to make use of local talent. It is a cycle in which the economic vitality of an area is contingent upon the strength of [more…]

  • Solar Schools and Environmental Finance

    North Carolina is one of the leading states in the country when it comes to installing solar energy. The growth of solar in North Carolina has been a fascinating opportunity to study the impact of different environmental finance systems. While the financial incentives and environmental finance systems available to [more…]

  • Biophilic Design, Part I

    Note: This is the first of three blog posts on biophilic design. Part 1 introduces the topic. Part 2 will discuss a case study on biophilic design. Part 3 will explore the idea of biophilic cities. Given complete freedom to choose their ideal home or office, people generally choose [more…]

  • Understanding the Tools Available for CED Professionals: How Far Do NC Local Governments Go in Social Media Presence?

    This past Friday, at the Southeastern Conference for Public Administration 2016 Annual Conference in Raleigh, second year UNC MPA graduate student Sabrina Willard accepted the Robert Klein Award for her paper on the presence of social media in North Carolina jurisdictions. The results of her paper raise significant questions [more…]

  • Flexible Opportunities in North Carolina’s Brownfields Program

    In the past the CED blog has explored the basics of brownfields programs in North Carolina, how they are administered and implemented, and their role in revitalizing communities. In this edition, we’re looking at two innovative facets of the state Brownfield’s program that were developed to better respond to [more…]

  • EPA Resources on Smart Growth Economic Development

    Many small towns and rural areas had an economy that was built on a single economic sector (for example, logging, mining, or manufacturing) that has changed significantly by technology and/or market forces, leaving residents without jobs and governments without a healthy tax base.  Some communities respond with an economic [more…]

  • Predicting Gentrification in the Era of Big Data

    Gentrification occurs when properties in lower-income neighborhoods are bought and renovated that subsequently raises property values but displaces low-income families. Displacement is potentially of even higher magnitude when development and construction of new housing does not meet the demand from an increase in population. In this narrative, gentrification can [more…]

  • Conveyance of Local Government Property for Affordable Housing

    A developer of affordable housing for low and moderate income persons has approached the City and County about an affordable housing project near the City’s downtown. The developer’s plan is to acquire and assemble two adjacent parcels—one owned by the City and one owned by the County—and then develop [more…]

  • Asset Building and the Shrinking Middle Class

    The shrinking middle class is a continuing theme in the political discourse this election season. This comes as no surprise because what it means to be middle class is at the heart of the American Dream.  As the White House Task Force on the Middle Class led by Vice [more…]

  • Equity and Economic Development: What’s the Connection?

    There is a renewed interest among many public officials in figuring out how to address intractable economic inequities that continue to exist in the U.S.   In response, the UNC School of Government’s Public Executive Leadership Academy (PELA) now includes a session on equitable growth and development, which I co-teach [more…]

  • Library Living? Integrating a library into a mixed-use development

    Would you ever want to live and shop on top of or next to your library that is part of a mixed-use development? Cities looking to catalyze on a library’s energy and flow of people could consider the development of a library as a component in a mixed-use project, [more…]

  • Financing Energy Efficiency for Municipal Electric Utility Customers in North Carolina

    Energy efficiency finance programs can help electricity customers to save money on their electric bills, have more efficient homes and offices to live and work in, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy production, and promote workforce development, job creation, and economic growth in local communities which may be very much [more…]

  • Evictions: A vicious cycle for people in poverty

    Matthew Desmond has authored a scrupulously researched, stimulating and compelling book that should be of interest to everyone in the apartment industry, every low-income housing advocate, any student of American neighborhoods and every public official. Examinations of urban poverty are nothing new, but this study of the causes and [more…]

  • Statistics on Your Corner: Using Data Better in CED

    In previous posts the CED blog explored the many publicly available sources for local data that can inform municipal staff, real estate professionals, and policy makers. But how can local governments make use this data, and how can they know that the conclusions reached are valid? Often municipal governments [more…]

  • Mapping North Carolina’s Local Food Infrastructure

    Strengthening local food economies can be viewed as an important part of a holistic approach to community development. Local food can be a positive contributor to social capital, public health, environmental preservation, and overall quality of life. It also can be an important component of local economic development. In [more…]

  • Hope through Housing: A Model for Addressing Pressing Community Challenges

    In the Town of Carol-Blue, Donny, a local community developer, finds himself in a really tough position. Both the county and city budgets are constrained and the challenges the town face economically seem only to grow in size. After performing an analysis of senior housing demand, he realizes that [more…]

  • 2016 Environmental Legislation: Place Matters!

    How much the last legislative session impacted environmental management in your community largely depends on where you live in the state. It was a “short” legislative session and relatively few bills were passed, but several of the bills that were passed contained significant provisions likely to impact environmental quality [more…]

  • Is Your Local Community Partner Ready To Go?

    In July 2013, I wrote a blog proposing a four-part framework for understanding if specific local organizations have the capacity to implement CED programs. How well does this framework hold up when actually used?  We answer this question using interviews with 31 local partners, over the past two years [more…]

  • A Guide to Value Added Alleys for Small Towns and Cities

    Alleys, in the American context, are cramped spaces tucked behind commercial buildings that house the ancillary services businesses and households require such as trash removal, utility access, and deliveries. Glimpsed only momentarily by passing pedestrians, these spaces are often perceived as dirty, unwelcoming, and even unsafe. In contrast, pre-automotive [more…]

  • Finding the Hard Numbers for a Rising Problem: A Method of Calculating Demand for Affordable Senior Housing

    The supply of affordable senior rental housing is a growing concern across North Carolina.  The source of this problem is linked to North Carolina’s growing senior population and a rising overall demand for affordable rental housing. As mentioned in a previous blog post, by the year 2050, according to [more…]

  • USDA Programs Boosting Access to Local, Fresh Foods Across North Carolina

    The role of local food systems in supporting community and economic development is a topic that has received significant coverage on the CED blog. Blog contributor and SOG faculty member Rick Morse has covered this topic extensively on this blog, sharing strategies to promote local food initiatives, including resources [more…]

  • Local Government Support for Privately Constructed Affordable Housing

    County officials from Tarheel County as well as City officials from the county seat were approached by two residential developers who are seeking to construct housing that is affordable to low and moderate income (LMI) persons. One developer, DoGooder Inc., is a private, for-profit developer who intends to construct [more…]

  • New Book of Interest: This is Where You Belong

    I am just finishing a pre-publication version of a forthcoming book by Melody Warnick titled “This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live” (available June 21, 2016). Warnick is a fellow-blogger on the Community Engagement Learning Exchange, writing about all things community from [more…]

  • The Future of Parking Decks

    Could you imagine living in a 135 square foot apartment? Well, a dozen students at the Savannah College of Art and Design did just that. Along with alumni and professors, the students turned a class project into reality. Through a special use permit, students temporarily lived in these micro-units [more…]

  • New Property Tax Exclusion for Developers

    The start of the 2016-2017 fiscal year will bring with it a new property tax exclusion aimed at residential and commercial development.  Known informally as the “builders’ inventory” exclusion, the new law was passed as S.L. 2015-223 and will be codified as G.S. 105-277.02. In today’s blog, I offer [more…]

  • Embrace Your Unique Place: Asset-Based Economic Development

    The White Squirrel. You may wonder what makes it white,  is it an albino or second-cousin to the common eastern grey squirrel? Did it originate in a carnival, victim of a failed science experiment, or was it simply a quirk of evolution? What does a rare breed of a [more…]