At Lincoln House September 2014

Regeneration in St. Louis

St. Louis was ranked 8 of 18 post-industrial cities studied in our Policy Focus Report Regenerating America's Legacy Cities, and the metropolitan area continues to make progress in planning and economic development. The revitalization along Washington Avenue, where turn-of-the-century garment and warehouse buildings have been renovated for adaptive re-use, was singled out by the report's co-authors, Lavea Brachman and Alan Mallach, as one success story. The rebirth along the boulevard embodied one of the major recommendations of the report -- that cities should take advantage of existing assets and strong urban fabric.

On a recent visit that happened to coincide with the immediate aftermath of the police shooting and racial tensions in Ferguson, we toured a thriving business incubator in the Lammert furniture building called T-Rex. Brian Matthews, co-founder of the St. Louis-based Cultivation Capital, was managing the finishing touches on what he called an "entrepreneurship ecosystem," including start-ups like Tunespeak and Less Annoying CRM. There are high hopes for St. Louis to become an alternative to the Bay Area, New York and Boston as a mecca for technology innovation. The most obvious edge is lower costs, for the businesses and their employees; a number of other medium-sized cities, such as Louisville, are seeking to take advantage of this strength.

As promising as it is, however, this kind of regeneration has its limits, as Mallach points out -- particularly in terms of being inclusive in building the workforce. "Many residents of legacy cities lack the education, job skills, and labor force attachment for them to benefit from economic growth, whether in the city or its surrounding region," the authors write in the report. "While many legacy cities still contain large numbers of jobs, most of the positions are held by commuters. For example, there are 216,000 jobs inside the borders of St. Louis, yet less than 55,000 are held by city residents. Building the city's human capital by increasing residents' education and skills must be intimately linked with the city's economic growth strategy to maximize the benefits city residents will gain from job growth inside the city."

The promise of jobs and the creation of new amenities is also at the heart of another project, north of Washington Avenue -- beginning at the site of the ruins of the Pruitt-Igoe public housing project, destroyed in 1972 after being deemed a failure. The city hopes to get the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency -- the high-tech eyes and ears of the Defense Department -- to relocate to where the towers of Pruitt-Igoe once stood. The facility, currently at the banks of the Mississippi River near the Anheuser-Busch brewery, would anchor the proposed NorthSide Regeneration project, spread out over 1,500 acres of largely vacant blocks, and including residential, commercial, and office space, plus a school and 50 acres of parks and trails.

There are thorny issues of scale inherent in this project, however. The high-security facility requires a large footprint of as much as 120 acres, leading some to fear another superblock-style development. Proponents believe that good urbanism would sprout up all around, however, an outcome that would clearly be better than existing conditions.

More detail on the story of Washington Avenue and the redevelopment of the Pruitt-Igoe site is available in this original post at CityLab.

The challenges of regenerating post-industrial Legacy Cities will be the topic of a session at the Meeting of the Minds in Detroit beginning October 1, with Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Rob van Gijzel, mayor of Eindhoven, the fifth-largest city in The Netherlands. The Lincoln Institute is a partner in the annual convening of some 350 thought leaders from the private, public, and non-profit sectors, focused on reinvention, technology, and "alternative urban futures."

Jean Hocker named Kingsbury Browne Fellow

Jean Hocker, a former president of the Land Trust Alliance and former board member at the Lincoln Institute, was named as the next Kingsbury Browne Fellow at the Lincoln Institute. Hocker was also named the winner of the Kingsbury Browne Conservation Leadership Award by the Land Trust Alliance in recognition of outstanding leadership, innovation and passion in land conservation. The announcement was made at the Land Trust Alliance's Rally 2014: The National Land Conservation Conference, in Providence last week.

The Kingsbury Browne fellowship and award is named for the Boston tax lawyer whose gathering of conservation leaders from across the country in 1981 at the Lincoln Institute evolved into the Land Trust Alliance, today representing more than 1,200 member land trusts. A special short film celebrating Browne's life and career was shown at the Rally welcoming dinner.

"I am truly humbled to receive the Kingsbury Browne Award," Hocker said. "Over the decades, I've seen land trusts build on Kingsbury Browne's vision to become a sophisticated force for conserving and stewarding irreplaceable land resources. I know that folks connected with land trusts are special -- smart, dedicated, hard-working, results-oriented. To receive this award is to feel an invaluable kinship with my friends and colleagues who make land conservation a reality."

During her tenure from 1987 to 2002 as president and CEO of the Land Trust Alliance, Hocker played a key role in shaping the organization, ensuring land trusts have the tools they need to do their critical work, such as guidance through Land Trust Standards and Practices, extensive educational materials, resources for direct services, and a key voice advocating for federal funding and tax incentives for private land conservation. She continues to be active, consulting with land trusts and their boards, chairing the board of The Wilderness Land Trust, and serving recently as a member of the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. In the fellowship, she will engage in research, writing and mentoring, under the Lincoln Institute's Department of Planning and Urban Form.

The Kingsbury Browne fellowship and award is in its ninth year. Previous winners were Larry Kueter, a Denver attorney specializing in agricultural and ranchland easements in the West; Peter Stein, managing director of Lyme Timber Co; Audrey C. Rust, president emeritus of the Peninsula Open Space Trust based in Palo Alto, Calif.; Jay Espy, executive director of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation; Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society; Laurie A. Wayburn, co-founder of the Pacific Forest Trust; Mark Ackelson, president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation; and Darby Bradley, president of the Vermont Land Trust.

In 1980, as a fellow at the Lincoln Institute, Kingsbury Browne first envisioned a network of land conservation trusts, and convened conservation leaders at the Lincoln Institute in 1981. That gathering led to the formation of the national Land Trust Exchange, which was later renamed the Land Trust Alliance. Browne is considered the father of America's modern land trust movement, a network of land trusts operating in every state of the nation. Together these land trusts have conserved more than 37 million acres, an area the size of New England. Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people love by strengthening land conservation across America.

The Land Trust Alliance Rally kicked off a busy fall for the Lincoln Institute on the topic of land conservation, with the publication of the Policy Focus Report Large Landscape Conservation and the establishment of The Practitioners Network for Large Landscape Conservation, a group of leaders and innovators on the forefront of today's conservation strategies. Prior to the Rally this year, Lincoln Institute Fellow James N. Levitt brought together three dozen representatives of private and civic land conservation organizations from 16 countries all around the world, to consider formation of the International Land Conservation Alliance, a similar network.

Next month, the Lincoln Institute is a major partner in the National Workshop on Large Landscape Conservation in Washington D.C. October 23-24. Sally Jewell, the United States Secretary of the Interior, will present a keynote address at the conference, which will showcase conservation innovations and landscape-scale solutions across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Krysta Harden, United States Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary, also will address the group, identifying key conservation provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill. In November, a Lincoln Institute delegation will travel to Sydney, Australia, for the IUCN World Parks Congress, where a new book, Conservation Catalysts: The Academy as Nature's Agent, edited by Jim Levitt, will be launched.

Assessing the property tax

The International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) celebrated its 80th annual conference in Sacramento, California August 24-27, and the Lincoln Institute's Valuation and Taxation Department once again had a big presence.

Senior fellow Joan Youngman addressed the subject of "The Nationwide Impact of Proposition 13: Lessons and Challenges" in a plenary session on the legacy of that controversial initiative. From the reaction of the audience it was clear that California's shift from a market-based property valuation system to an acquisition-based valuation system evokes strong feelings, both positive and negative. In her talk, Youngman compared California's Proposition 13 with Massachusetts' Proposition 2 1/2. She concluded that property tax stability in California has been achieved at a heavy price in horizontal equity or the distribution of the tax burden across properties of equivalent value. She noted that Massachusetts' levy limit was accomplished without moving away from a market-based valuation system.

Lincoln Institute Fellows Daphne Kenyon and Sally Powers organized an education session on "Reducing Reliance on the Personal Property Tax: Pros and Cons." In recent years several states have eliminated property taxes on business tangible personal property, and others have adopted or increased exemptions. This session included national experts on tax policy and tax administration, who discussed such topics as the revenue implications of reductions in personal property taxes, the special nature of a tax on movable property and its effect on business location, challenges in distinguishing personal property from real property, and methods of reducing the record-keeping and reporting burdens on taxpayers and tax administrators.

New partners in the West

Summer Waters, a Phoenix-based specialist in water and watersheds, is the new leader the Western Lands and Communities program, a partnership initiative focused on shaping growth, sustaining cities, protecting resources, and empowering communities in the Intermountain West. She joins Stephanie Sklar, who earlier this month was named the new chief executive of the Sonoran Institute.

"Summer Waters will bring significant expertise and energy to this leadership position in our longstanding partnership with the Sonoran Institute, which has been a key focal point for our work on land issues in the West," said Lincoln Institute president George W. McCarthy.

Since 2008, Waters has worked for the University of Arizona as the Water Resources Extension Agent for Maricopa County, which includes the City of Phoenix. Her programs addressed a broad range of issues related to water, climate, and the environment and received numerous awards including Arizona Forward's Environmental Stewardship Crescordia and the Arizona State University President's Award for Sustainability.

The Western Lands and Communities program focuses on shaping growth, sustaining cities, protecting resources, and empowering communities in the Intermountain West. It addresses these challenges through applied research, tool development, exploring policy linkages between land and related natural resources, and engagement of policy makers.

Odds & Ends

We note with great sadness the passing of Lillian Lincoln Howell, a founding member of the board of the Lincoln Institute ... Fellow Andrew Reschovsky will appear at the forum Balancing Educational Excellence with Tax Relief, put on by The Rockefeller Institute of Government, September 30 in Albany ... The Lincoln Institute is once again a partner in the annual Carver Colloquium: Fracking Bans & Setbacks: An Unconstitutional Takings? at the University of Denver October 14 ... A Lincoln Institute delegation will be on hand at the Urban Thinkers Campus organized by UN-HABITAT next month, part of the run-up to Habitat III ... This month we crossed a threshold -- 5,000 likes on our Facebook page. For those of you on the world's largest social network, please be sure to like our organization page and like and share the curation in your news feed ... This month's highlighted working paper: Effects of Plans on Urban Development in Beijing: Do They Contain Growth? by Shih-Kung Lai and Haoying Han.

— ANTHONY FLINT, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

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