Landmark Legislation Extends Land Bank Authority, Marks Fifth Anniversary

July 7th, 2015

Greater Ohio Policy Center applauds the Ohio General Assembly for passage of game-changing legislation that extends land banking authority to the remaining 44 Ohio counties that previously could not establish land banks!  Five years ago, on July 7, 2010, Ohio’s 43 most populous counties received statutory authority to organize county land banks, with Cuyahoga leading the way the year before.  Ohio enjoys one of the most effective and widely-used pieces of land bank legislation in the country.  Happy anniversary to Ohio’s county land banks!

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Land from the Cuyahoga County Land Bank has been redeveloped for urban farming, among many other uses, in Cleveland.

In 2009, Cuyahoga County piloted the land bank structure and its success compelled legislators to extend land banking authority to counties with 60,000 or more residents in 2010.  Now, five years later, the General Assembly has amended the original legislation to allow all counties to create land banks and Governor Kasich signed the changes into law on June 30, 2015.  This amendment paves a path for more exurban and rural counties to access this tremendous tool for community and economic redevelopment.

Since 2010, Ohio’s county land banks have helped revitalize hundreds of buildings–including residential homes, skyscrapers, historic theaters, and vacant factories–and have demolished over 15,000 blighted structures throughout the state.  While not a panacea, land banks have managed the redevelopment of hundreds of acres, guided critical community reinvestment, and fostered economic regrowth in some of Ohio’s most distressed areas.  With this new legislation, existing and additional Ohio counties have the capacity to continue to accelerate community revitalization and statewide economic prosperity.

Greater Ohio Policy Center thanks state legislators for their leadership and commitment to helping Ohio’s communities manage abandoned and blighted properties, especially Rep. Scott Ryan (Newark),  Rep. Ryan Smith (Bidwell) chair of the House Finance Committee,  Sen. Tom Patton (Strongsville), and Sen. Dave Burke (Marysville) for their assistance.

 

Why Ohio’s business leaders want walkable downtowns

June 18th, 2015

Hundreds of American companies see unique competitive advantages to being located in a walkable downtown neighborhood. These locations are helping companies attract and retain talented workers, build their brand and corporate identity, support creative collaboration, be closer to partners, consolidate operations, and support triple-bottom line business outcomes.

Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown is a new report out today from Smart Growth America in partnership with Cushman & Wakefield and the George Washington University School of Business’ Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis. The report surveys nearly 500 companies that have moved to or expanded in walkable downtowns over the past five years, as well as interviews with 45 senior-level staff at those companies. The report sheds light on why these companies chose a walkable downtown and what they looked for when making their decision.

“These companies chose a walkable downtown location to help them better compete for talent and resources,” said Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America. “That tells us two things. First, that creating these kinds of places is a crucial economic development strategy for cities. And second, that companies which haven’t considered a walkable location may be at risk of falling behind.”

In addition to explaining the reasons why they moved downtown, company leaders also outlined what they looked for when choosing a new location. Many interviewees said they wanted their offices to be close to restaurants, shops, and entertainment options, and accessible by a variety of transportation options. Great office space was another important factor. A warm welcome on the part of the city, and a clean and safe environment were also influential factors when deciding where to move.

The report’s survey includes 53 companies from Ohio, including General Electric, BrownFlynn, Dakota Software, Nationwide and Deloitte. These are just some of the many companies that have moved to walkable downtowns in the state in recent years.

The full report, along with a full list of companies included in this survey and an interactive map showing where they moved, is available on Smart Growth America’s website at www.smartgrowthamerica.org/core-values.

Smart Growth America is the only national organization dedicated to researching, advocating for and leading coalitions to bring better development to more communities nationwide. From providing more sidewalks to ensuring more homes are built near public transportation or that productive farms remain a part of our communities, smart growth helps make sure people across the nation can live in great neighborhoods. Learn more at www.smartgrowthamerica.org.

Join the kickoff event: A look at companies moving to downtowns

June 16th, 2015

Over the past five years, hundreds of companies across the United States have moved to and invested in walkable downtowns. Why did companies choose these places? And what features did they look for when picking a new location? On June 18, national non-profit Smart Growth America will release new research that seeks to answer both these questions.

“Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown” surveys nearly 500 companies that have moved to or invested in walkable downtowns over the past five years, and includes interviews with more than 40 senior-level staff at those companies. There are 53 companies in Ohio’s urban cores included in the analysis, including General Electric, BrownFlynn, Dakota Software, Nationwide and Deloitte. Ohio metropolitan areas mentioned in the report include Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo.

As part of the launch of this new research, Smart Growth America will hold a kickoff panel discussion in Washington, DC. The event will be livestreamed on the web, and you can watch it as it happens on Thursday, June 18, 2015 starting at 9:00 AM EDT. Register to join:

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Joining the panel will be Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America; Paula Munger, Director of Business Line Research and Brian Dawson, Senior Managing Director and Market Leader for the Washington, DC region for Cushman & Wakefield; Michael Deemer, Executive Vice President, Business Development at the Downtown Cleveland Alliance; Mark Fisher, Vice President of Government Relations and Policy Development for the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce; Brad Lacy, President & Chief Executive Officer of the Conway, AR Chamber of Commerce; Jim Reilly, Vice President, Corporate Communications at Panasonic; and Amy Ronneberg, Chief Financial Officer at Be the Match.

The conversation in the report as well as on the panel will provide an overview of why these companies chose to move downtown, and what they looked for when considering a new location. The event will also provide ideas for cities about how they can create the kinds of places these companies seek.

Have questions for the panelists ahead of time? Tweet them to @SmartGrowthUSA or use the hashtag #CoreValues.

We hope you’ll join us for the live event on June 18.

Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Jeopardized

June 15th, 2015

As you may know, the Ohio Senate has unveiled a proposal to put a 2-year freeze on Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit projects beginning this July. The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit has been an important tool in revitalizing Ohio’s communities and strengthening our metro economies. We need to keep this going to create jobs and vibrant communities in which people want to live and work.

Why is the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits program good for Ohio?

1. Job Creation. Since the start of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program in 2007, more than 21,000 permanent jobs and more than 20,000 construction jobs have been created.

2. Economic Development. Every $1 of Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit will leverage at least $6.71 in investment. This proposed moratorium will kill major revitalization projects that are already in the pipeline and underway but not yet complete and it will put the entire program in jeopardy.

Please email your senator TODAY and tell him or her why this moratorium is a bad idea for your community and for Ohio and ask the committee to remove the proposal from the Senate Budget Bill. You can find your senator’s contact information here:   http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senate/members/senate-directory

 

GOPC Releases Study on Ohio’s County Land Banks

May 15th, 2015

GOPC releases its latest report, “Taking Stock of Ohio County Land Banks: Current Practices and Promising Strategies.”

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As of April 2015, Ohio had twenty-two county land banks in operation, which have revitalized hundreds of buildings, including residential homes, skyscrapers, historic theaters, and vacant factories, and have demolished over 15,000 blighted structures.

The Greater Ohio Policy Center’s latest report, “Taking Stock of Ohio County Land Banks: Current Practices and Promising Strategies,” utilizes interviews, conference presentations, media coverage, and land bank documents to assess the current state of land banking in Ohio.  Through its research, GOPC places land banks in the larger context of community revitalization and highlights promising county land bank programs that have the potential to greatly contribute to sustainable economic and community redevelopment throughout Ohio.

GOPC found that each of Ohio’s 22 county land banks is tailored to their local circumstances, although most have shaped their missions to include the broad goals of:

  1. stabilizing and strengthening markets—particularly residential neighborhoods—to prevent further decline, and
  2. clearing a path for private sector re-engagement by lowering barriers through incentives, support, and resources.

Through the study, GOPC identified changes in local practices and state level policies that would further increase land banks’ effectiveness.  Recommended changes in state level policies include:

  • give counties the option to forgo holding forfeited land sales in cases in which properties on this list are more of a liability than asset
  • require county auditors to assess the condition and quality of properties at the same time they are assessed for value
  • provide immunity to trespassing charges to county land bank officials who enter blighted properties

 While Ohio’s county land banks are still early in their development, and many have yet to implement all the tools available to them, “Taking Stock of Ohio’s County Land Banks” concludes that land banks are having impact in their communities and hold great promise for the future.

For more information and a copy of this report please visit “Taking Stock of Ohio County Land Banks: Current Practice and Promising Strategies.”

 

New GOPC Study Finds Strong Potential in Innovative Neighborhood Revitalization Pilot

January 14th, 2015

Greater Ohio Policy Center today releases an independent analysis of an innovative model for neighborhood recovery being piloted in a Cleveland neighborhood, finding promising results for this block-by-block holistic approach to revitalization that combines demolition and rehabilitation.

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Slavic Village, a neighborhood located 6 miles south of downtown Cleveland, represents many of the strengths and challenges that characterize our historic urban communities. An intact neighborhood with a rich cultural history and strong community institutions, it also experienced the highest foreclosure rate in the country in 2008, and increasing rates of poverty and unemployment.

Based on 2014 analysis, the GOPC study, Documenting the Slavic Village Recovery Project: An Early Review of a Model for Neighborhood Revitalization in Cleveland, Ohio, released in conjunction with the Slavic Village Recovery, LLC, (SVR) finds preliminary results for the SVR Project, including:

  • Sales prices of the initial homes reached the targeted amount necessary to cover rehab costs and make a small $5,000-$10,000 profit; received an appraisal value above the listed $60,000 sale price; and sold quickly.
  • Neighborhood morale is high and neighbors are positive about the project.
  • Investment is taking place in the neighborhood apart from direct involvement with SVR, suggesting, perhaps, that SVR’s private sector partners created market confidence for new businesses and city and regional governments.

The Study also noted several keys to SVR’s early successes:

  • A holistic approach to community development and a clear comprehensive plan, strategically linking demolition and rehabilitation.
  • A focus on properties with value and the strong relationships needed to acquire properties from REO lists and banks
  • A philanthropic mission paired with a for-profit approach in executing the mission

Based on the data available to date, GOPC finds aspects of this Project potentially adaptable to other neighborhoods in other cities, although the context for replication is important. Several key factors, such as a pipeline of available properties, must be present for replication and those interested in duplicating the model may need to take the time to get these factors in place first in order to be successful.

Recognizing the opportunity to stabilize and revitalize this still vital area, four partners—two non-profit and two for-profit organizations—came together in 2013 to create Slavic Village Recovery, LLC. SVR aims to eradicate blight entirely from a targeted area in the neighborhood and thus reach a positive tipping point one block at a time.  SVR combines strategic demolition with housing rehabilitation, as well as resident support services, with the goal of achieving comprehensive redevelopment.

For more information on the progress and impact of Slavic Village Recovery, please click here to see our full assessment.

Central Ohio’s insight2050 Demonstrates the Significance of Regional Land Use

December 15th, 2014
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The insight2050 panel at the Columbus Metropolitan Club on Dec. 10, 2015. Pictured from left: Yaromir Steiner, Kyle Katz, Steve Schoeny, and Keith Myers.

This past week, Greater Ohio Policy Center attended a Columbus Metropolitan Club event on insight2050 and the impact of land use decisions on our health, economy, environment, and mobility.

Here are some highlights from the panel, which were live tweeted from the event by GOPC:

  • Yaromir Steiner: what are the infrastructure, health, social, environmental & fiscal costs of the way we develop? #Insight2050 answers this question
  • Yaromir Steiner: land use is the critical determining factor for the success and quality of life of places.
  • Yaromir Steiner: economic development is about creating places where people want to live.
  • Steve Schoeny: we don’t have enough #transportation options for downtown. This will take investment to change.
  • Keith Myers: cities have been shaped by #transportation since the beginning. We need transportation options supportive of #development we want.
  • Keith Myers: the transformation of cities requires political leadership & commitment

Click here to see all of our live tweets from the event on Storify.

About insight2050:

insight2050 is a collaborative initiative among MORPCColumbus 2020ULI Columbus, and a stakeholder committee consisting of public and private partners. The initiative aims to help Central Ohio communities proactively plan for development and population growth over the next 30+ years, which is expected to be dramatically different from the past.

The first phase of insight2050 is a regional analysis that provides data for decision makers to understand the impact of future land use policies on specific factors influencing the region’s quality of life. The Scenario Results Report is now available online at www.getinsight2050.org.

The regional growth scenarios that reflect different types of development patterns were informed by the latest data and projections and then compared utilizing a variety of metrics, such as land consumption, infrastructure costs, air pollution, household expenses for transportation and utilities, as well as public health and safety costs, to arrive at an assessment of their relative impacts.

The Importance of Regional Land Use

The scenarios developed through insight2050 lay out different ways the Central Ohio region can grow and the impacts those land use decisions have on the region’s future competitiveness, sustainability, and quality of life. The video above features Peter Calthorpe, whose firm developed insight2050, talking about the critical importance of land use.

Greater Ohio Policy Center is a firm believer in the immense significance of land use and will be addressing these issues of regional growth throughout the state at our upcoming Summit, Restoring Neighborhoods, Strengthening Economies. Click here to learn more about the Summit.

GOPC Welcomes New Board Members in 2014 and Thanks Long Time Board Members for Their Service

December 5th, 2014

2014 has been a year of transitions at the Greater Ohio Policy Center. We have had the great fortune of adding five new members to our Board of Trustees: Cheryl Subler, Managing Director of Policy of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, Jason Segedy, Executive Director of the Akron Metropolitan Area Transit Study, Jennifer Roller, President of the Raymond J. Wean Foundation, Dan O’Donnell, Senior Vice President at PNC, and Jeff Gatica, Vice President and Community Development Programs Officer at Fifth Third Bank.

GOPC also says farewell and great thanks to long time Board Members who have given many years of service to the organization. Peg Moertl, Senior Vice President at PNC, and Bobbie Garber, Assistant Vice President for Planning and Development Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, have completed six years of service. Bobbie and Peg have been instrumental in GOPC’s successes since 2008.

From left: Lavea Brachman, Bobbie Garber, and David Beach.

From left: Lavea Brachman, Bobbie Garber, and David Beach.

GOPC wishes the best to Peg and Bobbie and thanks them for their service!

GOPC Invites Panel Proposals for its June 2015 Summit on Innovation & Sustainable Growth in Ohio

October 20th, 2014

GOPC 2015 Summit

Deadline for Letters of Interest: November 14, 2014

Restoring Neighborhoods, Strengthening Economies: A Summit on Innovation and Sustainable Growth in Ohio’s Cities & Regions, a Summit hosted by the Greater Ohio Policy Center on June 9-10 of 2015 at the Westin Columbus, will explore the links between neighborhood revitalization and regional growth that make economically Ohio competitive in the 21st century.

GOPC welcomes champions of sustainable development from across Ohio to participate in this Summit, creating a dialogue around both policy and practice that will set an agenda for innovation, sustainable growth, and economic prosperity in Ohio.

We invite Letters of Interest describing panels that address the role of innovation and sustainable development in city and regional revitalization and economic growth in Ohio, such as:

  • approaches to generating and supporting innovation economies in Ohio’s cities
  • strategies for metropolitan and regional sustainable development and economic growth
  • practices for vacant and abandoned property reuse and community revitalization
  • financial tools for infrastructure improvement
  • options and financing for advancing multimodal transportation
  • financial tools and partners for strengthening neighborhoods and downtowns
  • case studies of ways to address environmental and equitable development issues
  • innovative governance tools that advance sustainable development and economic growth
  • new cross-sector community and regional solutions for revitalization

Summit sessions will address a wide range of topics essential to sustainable development and economic growth in Ohio, appealing to an audience that includes civic, business, philanthropic, non-profit and political leaders, including bankers, developers, and practitioners. The Summit will highlight cutting-edge strategies and practices, new tools, effective partnerships and policy solutions that are laying the foundation for building sustainable, prosperous, innovative communities and regions in Ohio and beyond.

Format and Process for Letters of Interest

Letters of Interest (up to 500 words) should describe the panel concept and how it will contribute to the Summit. Please include a list of proposed speakers and be prepared to confirm their participation upon panel acceptance.

GOPC will work with selected participants to finalize panel topics and speakers. GOPC will notify all individuals who submit a Letter of Interest with a decision by January 2015.

Contact

Please direct any questions about the Summit or this process to gopcsummit@gmail.com. Letters of Interest should be submitted to the same address by November 14, 2014.

About Greater Ohio Policy Center

Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC), a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Columbus and operating statewide, develops and advances policies and practices that value our urban cores and metropolitan regions as economic drivers and preserve Ohio’s open space and farmland. Through education, research, and outreach, GOPC strives to create a political and policy climate receptive to new economic and governmental structures that advance sustainable development and economic growth.

 

Touring Northwest Ohio

October 9th, 2014

By Alison D. Goebel, Associate Director

Periodically, GOPC staff likes to get out of the office and meet with leaders in their communities to learn about new and exciting changes that are developing throughout Ohio. With this mission in mind, earlier this month I visited Tiffin and Findlay to find out what is going on in these Northwest Ohio cities.

Tiffin has about 17,500 residents; Findlay about 41,500. Both are the home to smaller universities and have beautiful rivers running through their downtown. Findlay is the headquarters for two Fortune 500 companies—Marathon Petroleum and Cooper Tire–and Tiffin has several smaller manufacturing plants.

River

Tiffin has a number of planning processes underway to better leverage its cute downtown, which includes historic buildings and sits between Tiffin University and Heidelberg University.  As it is, in the last three years, the city has established a local job creation tax credit that complements the state tax credit, signaling to employers that the city wants to be business friendly. The city has also created a facade enhancement program to help downtown building owners, and they have established a revitalization district in downtown and along a major corridor to help attract businesses. Small businesses have already begun to return to empty storefronts in downtown and the downtown redevelopment plans are expected to help Tiffin become even more strategic with its resources.

Tiffin Green Space

Downtown Findlay is very picturesque and almost all storefronts have first floor tenants.  Marathon is expanding their downtown campus and a large grocery distributor is building a new facility on the edge of town that will employ 425 residents. While Findlay is working at distinct corporate advantage with its two Fortune 500 headquarters located within its borders, Findlay elected officials credit the city’s success to the private sector’s engagement and commitment to having a thriving city now and in the future. Officials explain that the city’s governing philosophy is “to create an environment for investment” and that “if companies know what to expect and know it’s a safe place [to invest] they will come.”  Long ago, Findlay committed to making it as easy as possible for their businesses to expand and stay. Findlay’s investment areas are predictable, their commitment to respond to corporate needs is established, and leaders in all sectors understand that they depend on one another for long-term success.

Findlay

I appreciated the opportunity to meet with officials that are valuing the power of their downtowns and recognize the economic and social benefits of thriving business districts and collaborative cross-sector relationships. Hats off to Findlay and Tiffin!