One of the best articles I’ve read in the last year comes from Emily Badger, who writes about Asheville, NC (population 83,393, FY 2012 budget $132 million) and a downtown renaissance led by a local real estate developer. The story in theAtlanticCities.com discusses in depth how a metric like “Per-Acre Value” can drive municipalities towards new revenue.
The concept basically shows that downtown Per Acre Value vastly outstrips the public wealth contributed by low-density subdivisions or malls. Additionally, downtown acreage costs significantly less to maintain in terms of public services and infrastructure.
In short, underutilized downtown buildings need to be developed. Here’s why. In Asheville, a downtown six-story building sitting on 1/5 of an acre yields $634,000 in tax revenue per acre once it was redeveloped. The Super Walmart on 34 acres of land yields $6,500 per acre in property taxes. Almost a 100x difference. Ultimately, the Per Acre model can lead to new revenue without property tax increases.
Here's the article: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2012/03/simple-math-can-save-cities-bankruptcy/1629/
Check it out!