Midland, Michigan is a small city with big potential. Located in the bend between the fingers and thumb of the Michigan ‘mitt,’ it boasts a strong industrial presence, and is home to several Fortune 500 companies. It is poised for growth but needs more affordable housing; another challenge is the downtown convergence of three rivers that is prone to occasional flooding. As the city was working on its Comprehensive Master Plan last year, it commissioned an in-depth economic analysis to reveal the financial impact of existing and potential development patterns with a view toward future growth. The Midland Board of REALTORS® secured a Smart Growth Grant from the REALTOR® Party to support the project.
The firm that conducted the study was Urban3, noted for its innovative three-dimensional value-per-acre graphic modeling that uses information gathered from property tax data to project various development scenarios and the potential tax income that each one could realize.
Jennifer Yarch, Association Executive of Midland Board of REALTORS®, says supporting the study was a natural fit for an organization whose priorities are housing and property rights. “If the city does develop the most productive way it can, according to the Urban3 analysis, the result should be more housing, especially affordable housing, and an increase in the value of existing homes. That’s something all REALTORS® can get behind.”
The Urban3 study first spelled out the local financing methods to show how the city pays for municipal services and infrastructure, which is directly tied to its future growth potential. It then produced a graphic analysis of value-per-acre, demonstrating where the most productive growth could occur. Yarch notes that one eye-opening revelation was that the city’s high-value downtown districts now have a disproportionately large amount of surface parking. “We could maintain the same number of parking spaces but reduce the footprint dramatically by building multi-story parking garages, freeing up a lot of land for mixed-use development that would not only create housing and commercial opportunity, but also generate more tax income. It was exciting to see this concept mapped out so clearly!”
The study was presented to the City Council and Planning Commission during a joint meeting in July 2022, which many Midland Board of REALTORS® members attended or viewed online. “Our members are proud to have supported this project that will affect what happens here in the future, and they’re excited to see some of the recommendations come to life,” says Yarch. “The study was beneficial to us, as the voice of real estate, and to the City of Midland. It helped us to show the city our values, and vice-versa, and our relationship has been strengthened in the process.”
Ryan Smith, Midland’s Community Development Planner, agrees that the grant from the REALTORS® was money well spent. “The project was well received by community leaders and stimulated productive conversations surrounding the economics of land use in the City and surrounding townships,” he says, noting that information from the Urban3 study has significantly informed Midland’s new Comprehensive Plan.
To learn more about how the local REALTORS® are helping Midland, Michigan to achieve its full potential by applying in-depth economic analysis to its planning process, contact Jennifer Yarch, Association Executive of the Midland Board of REALTORS®, at email@example.com or 989.631.6350.