At one of the breakout sessions at this year’s Redevelopment Forum, Joe Getz from the downtown economic-consulting organization JGSC Group gave a clinic on the importance of using good data to make decisions on downtown redevelopment projects. The familiar developer refrain “We’ve done this many times,” he cautioned, “is not data.”
There are lots of kinds of data besides demographic and Census data, he said, including interviews, surveys, and economic analysis. Such data tell us who will buy the housing we plan to build; who will shop in the stores; who will dine in the restaurants and what kind of dining they like. Census data doesn’t include any of those things, but they’re crucial to putting together redevelopment plans that will work.
“It’s the best of times; it’s the worst of times” is how moderator Tony Marchetta from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency kicked off the affordable housing session at this year’s Redevelopment Forum.
It’s the best of times, he said, because courts are now starting to get specific about municipal obligations, and, at the federal level, there is a push to expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit by 50 percent.