The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities
Cities and Regions Can Generate Profound Lasting Benefits by Investing in Downtowns and Center Cities
While small in geographic area, downtowns are immensely valuable, diverse, efficient, inclusive and resilient on multiple levels. From driving tax revenue and business activity to hosting a concentration of resources, amenities, and social infrastructure, downtowns are at the heart of the long-term health of a region. The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities research articulates the inherent value a downtown provides to the greater city, highlighting a district’s contributions based upon 100+ key data points in the principles of Economy, Inclusion, Vibrancy, Identity and Resilience. Our data showed that study downtowns outpaced their cities in residential growth between 2000 and 2021, growing an average of 50% against the citywide average of 15%. Read more about IDA’s findings here.
The methodology and data standard used in The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities study serve as a tool IDA offers to members. IDA has developed two distinct versions of the study to provide key analysis to any size organization across the United States. Future studies will expand the reach of the study to other countries.
The Power Your Downtown Plays in Your City
The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities report shows the impact a downtown has within the context of its city and region. IDA groups each of the center cities into one of three downtown tiers: Emerging Downtowns, Growing Downtowns and Established Downtowns. These tiers are defined by stage of development of the district both in terms of density and its significance to its city, as well as the growth of the district. The resulting report is a complete, data-driven narrative of the impact of your downtown on the city and region designed to empower local leaders to work with the public and private sectors on multiple levels and support the continued evolution of downtown.
Comparing Your District’s Performance
To objectively benchmark downtowns, IDA launched The Value of Downtowns: Comparisons in 2020 to compare how your downtown stacks up to peers nationwide. This study focuses on select metrics from IDA’s extensive database to tell a data-driven narrative of downtown in comparison to a group of peer downtowns selected from the study. Past participants of The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities can also benefit from this Comparisons study with updates to their data from prior years.
How to Participate
Put your downtown on the map and contribute to the place management industry. IDA’s research supports the development of your downtown or district and is a vital step towards helping your organization prioritize its efforts. The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities report is particularly well-suited to organizations who are just starting their research journey and looking for a downtown-focused data framework, The Value of Downtowns: Comparisons is best for organizations who already collect a significant amount of data (such as for “State of Downtown” reports), and are interested in more detailed analysis of benchmark data across different downtowns in the U.S.
Support the place management industry by:
- Implementation of IDA-approved data standard and universal key metrics.
- Building out an IDA database that allows aggregate reporting out, individual analysis and comparisons between downtowns.
The window for participating in the 2024 study has closed. To learn more, please email Cathy Lin, AICP, Director of Research, or call at (202) 798-5924.
IDA will work with a participating organization over a seven-month timeframe to collect and analyze a comprehensive set of data (~hundreds of metrics) and produce a report identifying the value of your downtown/district and how it contributes to your city and region.
Participating downtowns will receive:
- Objective report on the value of downtown and impact it has on the city and region through the lenses of Economy, Inclusion, Vibrancy, Identity and Resilience. See examples of past individual district reports from Milwaukee, Birmingham, and Los Angeles.
- Analysis providing a baseline for future data collection and comparison based upon the industry standard data and methodology.
- Inclusion in the IDA Vitality Index. Join the interactive, online tool to quickly assess downtown performance on 15 key metrics.
IDA will work with a participating organization over a four-month timeframe to collect a select set of data (~50 metrics), and develop a short report and other charts and visualizations to highlight where your downtown/district stands compared to its peers in the principles of Economy, Inclusion, Vibrancy, Identity and Resilience.
Participating downtowns will receive:
- Individual analysis using select metrics to compare the performance of your downtown or district to the national database. See an example of a past comparison report from Richmond.
- A baseline for future data collection: Analysis that provides a foundation for further collection and comparison based upon the industry standard data and methodology.
- Inclusion in the IDA Vitality Index: Join the interactive, online tool to quickly assess downtown performance on 15 key metrics.