Joe Minicozzi, Principal at Urban3, a spatial analytics and planning firm from Asheville NC, do things a little differently. Rather than trying to predict the future, or espouse a particularly theory, they look at the data. Using 3D visualization in ArcGIS, Urban3 takes publicly available assessor and sales tax data and creates 3D maps showing what Joe describes as the “potency” of land uses-- the highest property values and sales tax per square acre.
We know intuitively that properties located in downtown, walkable neighborhoods contribute more to city and county taxes than do properties at the outskirts of town. But it's difficult to conceptualize this difference without a visual presentation. Add to this the cost of infrastructure associated with building further away from the heart of town, and the Urban3, data-driven perspective becomes a critical solution to many of Colorado’s most pressing problems.
Towns located in Colorado’s Front Range Mountains, with their proximity to booming population centers and constrained geography, face unique development challenges. These communities face a significant need for additional economic development and housing. Infrastructure costs present a significant obstacle to development, however, and the need for long term investment is becoming increasingly clear.
On October 24 and 25, DCI had the opportunity to bring Joe Minicozzi, first to Nederland and then to Clear Creek County, for presentations and discussions on the cost/benefits of development in different areas of those communities.
In Nederland, Joe presented to community members, town trustees, the downtown development authority board and local developer. His presentation touched on the evolution of Asheville, NC, the economic potency of downtown buildings, and the history and current challenges facing Nederland based on land use data. In the discussion afterwards, community members and local leaders talked about the need to find other towns ('grandfathers') to serve as role models for growth, the need to balance ecological concerns with economic ones, and how to approach the need for additional housing.
The next day, DCI and Joe Minicozzi traveled to Georgetown, to present at the Clear Creek County Commissioners meeting. Local leaders from Idaho Springs, Georgetown and throughout the county came to see Joe and to think about future economic development in their community. Joe presented the countywide analysis done by Urban3, a thorough analysis of the taxes generated per acre throughout Clear Creek county. His analysis demonstrated that downtown Idaho Springs and downtown Georgetown are the largest tax producers per square foot for the county. Historic two story mixed use buildings, dense housing, and vibrant retail spaces make this land the most productive.
As Clear Creek County looks to continue diversifying outside of the extraction economy, looking to the data will be increasingly important to determine where investment will pay the biggest dividends. DCI is thrilled to continue our work with Joe Minicozzi, and look forward to bringing him back to Colorado soon!