36 / BUILDING DIALOGUE / SEPTEMBER 2023 ELEMENTS Mixed-Use Partner with Local Government to Win Community Support C ommunities that seek eco- nomic growth often rely on incentives such as urban re- newal programs and tax-increment financing to attract and partner with developers to achieve their long-term public policy goals. For private de- velopers, partnering with local gov- ernments has its benefits and draw- backs. There are several motivating fac- tors for local governments to enter into partnerships with private developers to complete mixed-use development projects. And as a developer, understanding these factors, as well as nurturing rela- tionships with community stakeholders who stand to benefit from the project, can help pave the way for a smoother process. n Why local governments pursue private develop- ment partnerships. Local governments may form part- nerships with private developers using urban renewal programs and TIF incentives for several reasons, in- cluding: •Enabling the city or town to deliver on its long-term vision and economic growth; • Addressing site conditions, such as lack of infra- structure, the presence of hazardous materials or other undesirable conditions that prevent viable private de- velopment from occurring; • Revitalizing the local economy through an increased tax base and job creation; and • Spurring development when market conditions oth- erwise prevent economically viable and financeable development. n Overcoming challenges. When local governments partner with developers to undertake large projects such as mixed-use development, it is common for com- munity members to mistakenly assume that their tax dollars are being spent to support private development interests. This is where a strong awareness campaign and consistent, transparent communication with the community can help ensure a project’s success. TIFs do not create a new tax, nor do they increase ex- isting property or sales tax rates. TIF revenue is only realized if the real property tax base within the project area where TIF is applied grows through land develop- ment, increased density, land value increase or a com- bination of these. Urban renewal authority structures and TIFs are not commonly top of mind for the average resident but are often critical elements to a city’s ability to meet long- term goals and sustain a vibrant community. McWhinney’s mixed-use development team has found success partnering with local governments to truly understand and align with their long-term vision and plans, as well as partnering to raise awareness and conduct community outreach campaigns. To help en- sure success, it’s critical to connect directly with com- munity members and emphasize: • Partnerships between local governments and de- velopers do not fund private projects. They leverage the potential future value of a site to offset costs of public infrastructure. Private development and public entities coming together to create high-quality environments that attract people into those spaces for a variety of purposes maximizes that area’s economic development potential and long-term vitality. • TIFs are like a 401(k) retirement plan. They allow local governments to leverage the future value of tax- es through bond financing to pay for infrastructure, and once the financing is paid off, 100% of the revenue created by the development goes back to the city. And residents don’t have to wait for the debt to be paid off. In exchange for this investment in the future, residents may get vibrant, mixed-use, walkable communities; at- tainable housing; workforce housing; public parks and other recreational spaces; new roads; utilities and in- frastructure; and more to support job creation and eco- nomic development. • Transparency. Cultivating trusting relationships with the community requires transparency, regular communication and meaningful opportunities for resi- dents to get involved in the planning process. The more community members feel heard and the more their de- sires are reflected in development plans, the more suc- cessful the project will be during the development and activation phases. n Site selection. What makes for a healthy part- Karen McShea Senior Vice President of Commercial & Mixed-Use Develop- ment, McWhinney To help ensure success, it’s critical to connect directly with community members.