Burying the lead: economic value of each new household added to a commercial district-neighborhood-city
The previous entry discussing historic preservation called out one of the slides from the presentation to Main Street Iowa about the economic impact of adding housing to "downtown" commercial districts. Typically this is space that is converted to residential, located above ground floor retail, or conversion of office buildings, etc.
-- Upper Story Housing Case Studies: Creative Solutions and Lessons Learned, Main Street Iowa
-- Upstairs Downtown program, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
-- "Downtown is looking up!," Middletown Eye
-- TIF Upper Story Housing Program, Rock Island, Illinois
-- Philadelphia 10-Year Property Tax Abatement program on new and conversion residential projects, study by EcoConsult
-- Upper Story Redevelopment Strategies for Downtown Revitalization, City of Cumberland, Maryland
I made the point that this type of economic impact is important generally, regardless of if it's an "upper story" housing development. Just adding more households (with money) is a good thing.
And so this research finding is extendable to other settings involving the addition of new housing to neighborhoods and commercial districts, whether it is "upper story" housing in existing buildings or new apartments or condominiums.
Economic value of the addition of housing to neighborhoods and commercial districts
This is in fact what is happening with the population influx that DC is experiencing now. Although the new households in DC and other large cities likely have much higher income than the households studied in Iowa, which means that there is even greater economic impact.
New residents spend new money, money that wasn't being spent in the local economy before, and more residents spend more money than fewer residents and some of it (more if there are more places to spend it that are local) is spent locally.
New spending allows for the revitalization of neighborhood commercial districts, places like 11th Street NW in Columbia Heights or Barracks Row on 8th Street SE in Capitol Hill or Upshur Street and Georgia Avenue in the area served by the Petworth Metro Station (which has been stoked by the addition of multiunit housing to the area), or 14th Street between Thomas Circle and U Street (in response to the Whole Foods Supermarket and the addition of a goodly amount of multiunit housing), etc.
And it is just in the last couple of years where these changes have become truly visible, having reached a kind of "critical mass" or "tipping point," coincident with escalation in the number of people moving into the city (about 1,000 people per month over the last two years).