The Advocates: Thoughtful Use = Healthy Budget

WRITTEN BY lclark 1 year ago

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Yesterday, urban thinker Joe Minicozzi made several stops on a speaking tour through the region to share data on taxable land value per acre.

Wait! Before you start to nod off, while this isn’t a very exciting topic, it matters.

The implications for municipalities and the services they provide residents – like roads, water, schools, police and fire protection – are big.

Minicozzi’s analysis shows that, on a per acre basis, denser mixed-use development with a high quality of place creates exponentially higher land values. Those higher land values generate higher returns to the city and county in the form of property taxes.

What? Why does all this tax value stuff matter?

When you develop a residential area that maximizes the use of land and includes spaces that can be used for other purposes (like offices, stores, restaurants and gyms), those areas create a higher tax revenue for the city, which in turn allows the city to provide high-level services and have a stable tax rate.

For example, Mount Pleasant Towne Centre generates a very healthy $2.29 million per acre in tax revenue. But that sum is eclipsed more than four times by The Boulevard mixed-use development in Mt. Pleasant, which generates $10.4 million per acre. It’s a simple measurement of land productivity. In other words, we need to make every square foot count.


All new development creates expenses for municipalities. But denser, mixed-use development generates far greater tax returns which allow the city or county to invest in infrastructure and provide services.

If you’re reading this, congratulations! You made it past the phrase “taxable land value per acre” in one piece. As a reward, here is a video of 200 years of growth in the Charleston area. There’s also a pretty interesting story map, that includes 3D mapping of our region.

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