Shopping Centers Today

JUL 2018

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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J U L Y 2 0 1 8 / S C T 35 another infrastructure issue that emerged, he notes. " Gibbs' vision for Troy (Mich.) Town Center — a 100-acre redevelopment of the Troy Civic Center com- plex, with a mix of proposed uses, including about 200,000 square feet of retail — has called for between 2,500 and 3,000 residential units. But those plans may have to be scaled back, he says, because of infrastructure-related constraints. "In the due diligence, the city found out that the sewer capacity could only accommodate about 800 residential units," Gibbs said. "at was a big drop in what we wanted, because in this kind of planning — for walkable town centers — more is more: e more people who live there, the better the restaurants do, and the livelier it is." For developers, deferred maintenance can pose a chal- lenge in other ways: When officials in municipalities with overtaxed or eroding infrastructure are reviewing new proj- ects, they oen ask the developer to foot the bill for things that need fixing, Lamoureux says. Moving forward, the task force will seek opportunities to work with federal and state officials to reduce this burden on private-sector developers. To find those new approaches, the task force will look at innovative development projects, incentives programs and public-private partnerships at the state level. Ideally, they will find solutions that could scale nationally, Lamoureux says. Fortunately, it should have plenty to study, thanks to the robust level of infrastructure-related activity in many states over the past few years, says Pallasch. "We are at 26 states now in the last five years that have increased [infrastructure spending] in some form or fashion," he said. "We are seeing real progress." Georgia is one example. In May Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation geared toward laying the groundwork for massive expansion of mass transit in gridlocked metro Atlanta. Under the law, 13 counties gained the right to raise billions of dollars for transit by levying sales taxes for up to 30 years. e mea- sure also established a board to coordinate the construction and financing of transit projects. "People in [metro Atlanta] have finally gotten fed up with the gridlock," said Carusi, who is based in Atlanta. "ey are starting to understand that we cannot just build more roads to get out of it." Meanwhile, projects like the High Line, an elevated park, greenway and rail trail on New York City's West Side, contin- ue to prove the value of infrastructure projects in spurring retail, restaurants and other economic activity, says Welles. "e High Line was done with tax increment financing, and it really worked," he said. But while some are sanguine about progress at the state level, the federal government will still have to be a good partner, Pal- lasch says. "We feel pretty strongly that a core function of the federal government should be improving interstate commerce. at means making sure that our roads, airports, seaports — all of those things — work efficiently. It is terribly important." Bureaucracies, too, could promote better infrastructure by ramping up their efficiency, says Lamoureux, who previously served as Massachusetts' assistant secretary for economic de- velopment. Oen, merely getting a straight yes-or-no answer from a government agency can be frustratingly difficult, she says, and developers are oen forced to jump through too many bureaucratic hoops to gain financing help on infrastruc- ture projects. "We will be looking to see if there are opportuni- ties to break down barriers and better expedite and coordinate approvals," Lamoureux said. In addition to beneficial policy shis that are relatively straightforward, the task force will also be paying attention to the long-term picture — everything from driverless cars to so-called smart cities, Lamoureux says. "We do not have all of the answers yet," she said, "but I'm very optimistic that we're going to eventually have a full set of recommendations that will be bipartisan [and] attractive to our federal leaders and that we'll have some success getting through Congress on behalf of ICSC's members." n l Traffic congestion like that in Atlanta (left) costs the city's busi- nesses and consumers millions per year. The conversion of New York City's High Line (right) into a popular walkway was a boon for the re- tailers and restaurants along its route

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