New for Shelterforce: Reversing the community benefits paradigm for publicly owned parcels

By Michael A. Spotts, President
Twitter: @MichaelASpotts

Last week, my former colleague Ahmad Abu-Khalaf (follow on Twitter at: @Ahmad_AbuKhalaf) an I wrote an article for Shelterforce about our past research for Enterprise Community Partners on utilizing publicly owned parcels to provide community benefits. In this article, we talk about successful public-private partnerships that have yielded positive results, but pose the question: are we missing an opportunity to more aggressively address gaps in wealth between communities and households? To answer the question, we put forward a potential new model:

What if instead, public agencies granted site control—and the ability to capture a greater percentage of value appreciation—to a mission-driven entity such as a large-scale nonprofit developer, community development corporation, cooperative, or community land trust? This community-based, mission-oriented master developer could then theoretically subcontract with market-rate developers for portions of the site from a position of strength, and ensure that the community-serving portions of the development are not marginalized. Over time, a successful development would not just provide affordable homes and community space, but it could also provide on-going dividends to the community that might otherwise flow to non-local corporations and shareholders.

For more information, read the full Shelterforce article to get our thoughts on what has worked in the past, what can be done to create a more equitable approach, and important considerations for moving a new model forward. You can also access the full Public Benefit from Publicly Owned Parcels series