Public-Private Development Strategies

HR&A structures public-private development partnerships that strengthen community assets and facilitate economic growth.

 

HR&A’s consultants include former government officials, developers, private sector real estate developers and managers, economists, planners and lawyers. We work with property owners and developers to create value from government assets, and we help public officials maximize benefits from the expertise and capacity of the private sector through public private development. We approach assignments from diverse perspectives, enabling critical analyses that result in projects that meet our clients’ economic and policy objectives.

 

HR&A’s approach to public-private development begins with two critical analyses:

  • Stated and implied public policy priorities for a project; and
  • Project economics and return expectations.

HR&A forges partnerships that fulfill the requirements of the private sector and meet the goals of the public sector.

Implementation of complex real estate development proposals cannot happen without support from both the public and private sectors. HR&A plays a variety of roles in structuring and supporting development partnerships. We:

 

  • Analyze market potential to develop programs that trigger strong private sector responses;
  • Provide solutions to regulatory challenges;
  • Manage pre-development and master planning for proposed redevelopments;
  • Develop asset repositioning and acquisition/disposition strategies;
  • Analyze financial feasibility and phasing strategies for a mix of uses (residential, commercial, office, hotel, cultural, and industrial);
  • Structure innovative public-private development scenarios and financing deals to implement projects; and
  • Represent private, public and institutional real estate owners during developer solicitation, selection, and negotiation.

 

HR&A supports the implementation of complex development projects, including associated public approvals.

Complex development projects require strategic positioning and focused messaging to secure public land use approvals. HR&A has a successful track record spearheading large scale master plans and mixed-use projects through the public review process, often in tandem with our other services including project management, economic impact and financial feasibility analyses, and master plan support. HR&A has experience managing:

 

  • Public approvals;
  • Environmental permitting; and
  • Historic preservation and landmarks review.

 

Public Policy Analysis

HR&A provides independent economic analyses of programs and policies in order to inform public sector decision-making.

 

HR&A provides empirical third party analysis to support clients in making a persuasive case for a favorable shift in public policy. We have assisted a diversity of clients in assessing and, in many cases, maximizing, the benefits of new real estate development through fiscal policy analysis. We have supported many industries and public entities in making decisions about public policy issues – from the regulation of sports and entertainment events in New York, Massachusetts and Ontario, to tax and incentive structures across the United States and Canada.

 

HR&A’s work has been instrumental in creating policy that supports the development of vibrant communities and generates economic and fiscal benefits for municipalities and states.

Our public policy analysis work underscores the importance of superior quantitative analysis wedded to a strong understanding of client objectives. HR&A’s work includes:

 

  • Economic analysis of policy alternatives;
  • Cost-benefit assessment of recommended policy changes to support environmental review and approvals processes;
  • Financial incentives structuring to support real estate development;
  • Financial and economic policy creation to support sectoral growth strategies;
  • Structuring of financing programs to achieve larger policy goals, such as energy efficiency and affordable housing; and
  • Creating economic rationale for setting public funding priorities.

 

Image Courtesy: Historic Core of Downtown Los Angeles

Market and Financial Feasibility Analysis

HR&A provides objective assessments of market and financial feasibility for public and private investments in real estate developments, open space, infrastructure and mass transit.

 

HR&A’s three decades of experience assessing market and financial feasibility of public and private investments in real estate, open space, infrastructure and mass transit translates into successful outcomes for our clients. Our market and financial feasibility studies:

 

  • Provide robust analysis of real estate market conditions – for the residential, commercial, retail, industrial, cultural and hotel sectors – to inform development strategies and programs for master plans and development projects;
  • Support repositioning of existing real estate and infrastructure to anchor new development, including historic train stations, elevated highways, and industrial waterfronts;
  • Create retail redevelopment and revitalization strategies, including development of marketing materials and tenant outreach strategies; and
  • Identify opportunities for brownfield redevelopment—especially as part of New York State’s Brownfield Opportunities Area program.

 

HR&A makes use of a wide range of capabilities in order to determine project feasibility.

HR&A analyzes market and financial fundamentals to inform broader strategies that enable new development and revitalize communities. We:

  • Assess the opportunities and constraints unique to each project area;
  • Research demographics and real estate markets to understand supply and demand trends and target markets;
  • Prepare demand analyses, interview stakeholders and industry experts, and research case studies to estimate development potential;
  • Develop financial models that quantify the costs and benefits of various development scenarios to help clients make informed decisions;
  • Quantify the impact of public and private investments on future market demand and tax revenues; and
  • Craft strategies to build on specific market opportunities and capture unmet demand.

 

 

Economic Impact Analysis

HR&A’s economic impact analyses and fiscal impact analyses help clients secure project approvals and public-private financing by providing clear rationales for action.

 

Economic and fiscal impact analysis is one of HR&A’s core capabilities. We excel at developing sophisticated and market-tested models to measure the impact of development projects and policies in terms of job creation, wages, tax revenues, and overall economic activity. Our robust analyses of project benefits provide our clients with a distinct advantage, whether they are competing for scarce resources, seeking project approvals, or pursuing a change in public policy. In the last four years, we have analyzed the impact of over $32 billion in proposed real estate development as well as a number of event-related impacts and the overall impact of whole districts and regions.

HR&A takes a creative approach grounded in rigorous quantitative analysis.

  • We work closely with our clients to define project scope and ensure that measureable outcomes are aligned with project goals.
  • We develop the appropriate economic and/or fiscal impact analysis approach and select appropriate techniques and models. Our professionals are experts in using sophisticated econometric models to calculate direct and “multiplier” effects, including input-output models (e.g., IMPLAN, RIMS II) and general equilibrium models (e.g. REMI), relying on data specific to the area of analysis.
  • We frame our analysis in a strategic context informed by political and pragmatic realities.

 

HR&A tailors each economic and fiscal impact study to best meet our client’s needs.

We produce compelling deliverables that speak directly to the intended audience. Our reports do not sit on shelves — they catalyze decision making. In our economic and fiscal impact studies, we:

 

  • Analyze the impacts of development scenarios to support public investment decisions;
  • Demonstrate the value of a place or industry;
  • Measure the fiscal impacts of proposed developments and planning initiatives; and
  • Demonstrate the impacts and benefits of changes to public policy.

 

Economic Revitalization and Community Planning

HR&A’s work unlocks the potential for economic growth through site and district-wide master plans, and revitalization strategies for neighborhoods, cities and metropolitan regions.

Our goal is to strengthen and preserve the character of individual communities. We examine the market drivers of a location, and then identify first steps that will have a catalytic effect on inclusive growth and development, as well as long-term actions. We secure and structure funding for master plans and economic development projects, leveraging public and private funding opportunities and government incentive programs. We also understand that governance is a crucial component of implementation, and help clients create and enhance organizational capacity to be advocates for and managers of economic development and revitalization efforts.

 

HR&A is an industry leader in developing strategies to stimulate transformative growth across North America and around the world. Our economic revitalization and community planning services include:

  • Crafting master plans for sites, neighborhoods, and campuses in partnership with urban designers, planners, architects, landscape architects and engineers;
  • Developing community-based plans that engage residents and stakeholders to produce positive physical change and shared prosperity, and to contribute to a healthy environment and population;
  • Designing policies that support industry sector growth to attract and retain jobs, businesses and investment;
  • Creating economic revitalization strategies for cities and regions that balance growth, equity, and sustainability; and
  • Establishing the economic framework for a wide range of planning efforts including innovation and cultural districts, university and institutional campuses, brownfields and industrial waterfronts, and former military bases.

HR&A grounds all recommendations in analysis.

In-depth quantitative economic analyses inform all of our recommendations. We consider a client’s planning and economic development challenges by examining:

 

  • Demographics, including population size and composition, employment, income, and education or skill base;
  • Economic base, including industry clusters and trends, current economic development initiatives, development anchors, and major employers;
  • Real estate and land use, including residential, commercial, industrial, and retail market trends;
  • Existing infrastructure, such as transit hubs, public spaces, historic building stock, cultural attractions, parking, and highway infrastructure;
  • Regulatory conditions and incentives, including zoning, public leasing and acquisition/disposition ordinances, affordable housing policies, density bonuses, and other public benefit and development impact fee structures; and
  • Resilience vulnerabilities and sustainability goals, including energy needs, and climate adaptation commitments at the regional, city, district and individual building scales;
  • Management and governance capacity, including public, quasi-public, non-profit, and private entities.

HR&A has extensive experience leading the implementation of market-based revitalization and development plans, in collaboration with public officials, community leaders, residents, businesses, developers and other stakeholders.

 

 

Image Courtesy: Talking Transition

Parks and Open Space Strategy

HR&A is at the leading edge of a movement to design, operate, program and fund the development of new urban open space.

 

HR&A has more than three decades of experience contributing to the planning and development of urban open space amenities. Our parks practice views parks both as public amenities and as catalysts of economic development. Our approach enables communities to use open space to create value through strategic connections with adjacent real estate and civic assets; to quantify that value through robust, data-driven economic models; and, where appropriate, to channel that value towards open space revitalization and maintenance.

 

 

HR&A provides three core services to ensure vibrant and self-sustaining public parks

 

 

Financing Open Space Development

HR&A works closely with public and private clients, urban design professionals, civic stakeholders, and community representatives to build a financial model for open space costs, provide advice on value for money considerations throughout the planning process, assess the opportunities and challenges of alternative park stewardship models, and examine a range of potential income sources for inclusion within a funding plan. Having planned for and implemented public space operating models in cities across the country and around the world – from better leveraging the resources of parks departments, to forming not-for-profit parks conservancies, to structuring Public Improvement Districts and developing earned income sources and retention structures – HR&A understands the best practices for and relative strengths and weaknesses of public space stewardship models and can tailor to location and mission.

 

 

Ensuring Sustainable Operations and Maintenance for Parks

It is essential for the health of urban parks to plan for the ongoing operations and maintenance of new and existing open space. Our approach to producing a sustainable Operations and Maintenance plan takes into account three perspectives: organizational vision, park activation, and existing financing. We partner with our clients to:

 

  • Document the current stewardship model;
  • Evaluate ongoing capital projects and associated costs;
  • Estimate operating costs and revenue strategy; and
  • Identify potential structures that could provide ongoing and reliable revenues for park operations.

 

Leveraging Programming to Activate Parks and Increase Value

We understand that the activation of new public spaces must leverage programming for a layered set of users, including local residents and workers in downtown, citywide constituents, and visitors from throughout the region, country, and across the world. HR&A collaborates with urban design professionals and park management to evaluate the feasibility of and integrate a range of programming elements into new and existing open spaces.

 

 

Affordable Housing Strategy

For 40 years, HR&A has guided the design and implementation of the innovative programs that produce and preserve affordable housing.

 
Our practice works with public and private sector clients across North America and provides services in three areas:

 

  • Regional, city, and neighborhood housing plans that evaluate the market and regulatory factors driving housing affordability challenges and identify policy and programmatic solutions
  • Affordable housing policy and programs that maximize the impact of public funds and leverage local land use regulations to foster affordability; and
  • The redevelopment of public housing sites to create mixed-income communities that provide access to opportunity for households and supporting neighborhood revitalization

 

HR&A is involved in all aspects of designing and implementing affordable housing strategies.

On behalf of our clients we:

 

  • Prepare housing and community development policies and needs analyses, at the neighborhood, district, city and county level;
  • Design, implement and evaluate innovative programs to produce and preserve affordable housing, including inclusionary housing, “linkage fee” and density bonus programs;
  • Design and implement financing programs;
  • Review proposed affordable housing development projects for compliance with local programs and financial feasibility;
  • Manage public sector affordable housing developer solicitation and selection processes;
  • Draft and review loan documents and negotiate with loan underwriters; and
  • Prepare and analyze development financing plans, including market studies, design of real estate partnerships involving complicated tax and legal structures with public and private participants, issuance of tax-exempt financing and structuring of tax-advantaged equity investments.

 

HR&A has a long history of consulting for diverse players in the housing development industry including:

 

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD);
  • Private lenders;
  • Public lenders;
  • National intermediaries (e.g., NEF, CEF, LISC, Enterprise Community Partners);
  • Local public agencies;
  • Community-based, non-profit developers;
  • Affordable housing industry organizations; and
  • Some of the nation’s leading private residential development organizations.

 

Retail Planning

HR&A’s approach to retail development considers both community aspirations and private and public sector requirements.

 

HR&A has expertise not only in developing forward-thinking and creative retail tenanting strategies, but also in producing achievable and effective implementation programs unique to the economic and demographic composition of the area. HR&A has experience creating retail growth strategies across the nation, working for large and small public, private, institutional and non-profit clients.

 

Our retail work is led by Kate Coburn, who previously spent ten years as the Vice President for Retail Leasing and Marketing for 800,000 square feet at one of the most unique and celebrated mixed-use developments in the United States, the 18-building Rockefeller Center development in New York City.

 

HR&A develops and implements retail strategies for districts, corridors, neighborhoods, and proposed developments. We understand the power of leveraging retail within the context of its surroundings as a catalyst for economic vitality and new growth.

HR&A’s planning recommendations are firmly grounded in market reality. Our retail plans are market supportable, financially feasible, and reflect the requirements of local, regional and national retailers and restaurateurs, based on both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Our recommendations include near-term and long-term actions that are effective and practicable.

 

Our work creates a unique sense of place for retail and restaurants to thrive and have as an underpinning recommendations for parking and zoning regulations that encourage a clustering of uses, providing open space and programming special events and activities that bring a community together.

 

We excel at developing marketing plans and branding strategies that communicate new retail and tenanting opportunities to our clients, developers, and retailers, and engage in retail recruitment to create vibrant streetscapes and a new neighborhood complexion, which sets the stage for additional retail and economic development over time.

 

 

Image Courtesy: Urban Land Institute

Economic Incentives Strategy

We’re transforming approaches to incentives and other economic development tools in cities across the country.

 
Economic incentives represent a significant expenditure of local resources, in many cases eclipsing traditional investment in economic development. Today, state and local governments need to ensure that their investments are not only producing reasonable returns, but also driving public benefit and inclusive outcomes. As cities shift towards more equitable economic development policies, most are reconsidering the role of their incentives.
 
In undertaking this transformation, many state and local governments across the country share similar questions:
 

  • How effective are our incentive programs in driving desired outcomes?
  • How do we expand our goals and evaluation metrics beyond simple measures – traditionally the number of jobs or dollar value of capital investment – to increasingly more nuanced public policy objectives around promoting greater inclusivity?
  • How do we adapt our programs to improve the public return on investment for these critical tools?

We help state and local governments answer these core questions by rigorously measuring the performance of their programs, re-aligning program goals and criteria to reflect current-day public policy objectives, shaping innovative approaches that drive greater public ROI, and designing custom implementation tools for deal evaluation and performance tracking. Our work has supported cities such as Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Philadelphia in transforming their approach to incentives.