Can Smart Growth Strategies Save Money for Cities?


As cash-strapped cities and states look for ways to maintain and modernize their infrastructure, a new study suggests that smart growth development can help the bottom line. Recently Smart Growth experts compiled results from 17 studies, showing the revenue potential of “smart growth” development strategies. The new report, Building Better Budgets: A National Examination of the Fiscal Benefits of Smart Growth Development, provided three major conclusions about smart growth development:

1. It costs about one-third less for upfront infrastructure.

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Suterbrook Village – An Island of Urbanity that Actually Works

2. It saves an average of 10 percent on ongoing delivery of services.

3. It generates 10 times more tax revenue per acre than conventional suburban development.

These advantages to smart growth development primarily came from efficiencies of the design. For example, smart growth tends to decrease the need for more lane miles of road, water and sewer pipes, fewer traffic lights and can decrease the costs of providing services like fire trucks, plows, and police since they all travel less in Smart Growth areas.  In Nashville, Tennessee, a survey showed that costs for fire service per house can drop from over $700 to $159. By providing multi-use development, Smart Growth towns also tend to generate an average of ten times the tax revenue per acre when compared to conventional areas due to increased development, in some instances exceeding 1,150 times the per acre revenue.

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