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Master Planning Opportunity Zones (Quality Cities Magazine Q1 2020)
As a result of the 2017 Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, over 8,700 communities nation-wide have been designated as “Opportunity Zones” to spur local economic development amongst the nations’ ripest areas for revitalization. In the wake of this federal legislation, jurisdictions across the country are tasked with identifying inventive ways to lure in private investment dollars. One of the many ways in which states and cities across the nation are attempting to attract private investment is by developing Opportunity Zone Master Plans, which is a visioning document that aligns the community’s needs with financially-viable redevelopment.
At WGI, we are at the forefront of planning for Opportunity Zones as we are able to leverage our extensive experience in the land development process to recommend implementable and actionable policy for local jurisdictions. Our planning process is grounded by a community-led approach, where the community drives the vision, implementation, and future redevelopment of their locale.
Step 1: Defining a Community’s Needs and Strengths
One of the primary concerns surrounding community revitalization and private development is undoubtedly the change in the character of the community at large to secure a positive outcome. Our team taps into our network of existing relationships to identify all stakeholders, ranging from neighborhood groups to planning and zoning staff, as well as interested investors and developers within the Opportunity Zones.
We then shift our focus to gaining a comprehensive understanding of the assets and opportunities that lie within the Opportunity Zones to help us facilitate collaborative and informational sessions that will provide the fundamental backbone of the Master Plan.
Step 2: Navigating Local Land Development Regulations
Once our team has identified and cataloged the community’s assets and needs, we delve into a holistic analysis of land development regulations and policies to both identify the development potential of the Opportunity Zone, as well as recommend necessary policy changes to help facilitate the desired vision of the community.
At this stage, our wide-ranging resources, relationships, and land development experience enable us to provide the community with specific parameters surrounding the type of development and specific use-types that will be both buildable and best suited to meet their needs.
Step 3: Community-Led Master Planning
The final stage of our Opportunity Zone Master Planning process is to put the ball back in the court of the community. We help facilitate collaborative sessions and design charrettes with the community to help write the very policies that will guide redevelopment in their neighborhood.
From choosing specific use-types to guiding the design and look of specific sites, the community directs our efforts to provide a Master Plan for their Opportunity Zone that is both reflective of their strength and also enticing enough to attract private investment in their community.
If your municipality would like more information on Opportunity Zones and how WGI can help you navigate the process, please contact us today!
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