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In the News

At your service: CAPCOG’s new Prosperous Places Program

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Flexibility: Scenario planning is no longer tied to color-coded land-use maps. CAPCOG’s Prosperous Places Program offers a library of Central Texas building models that can portray various development scenarios.

On the heels of the successful three-year Sustainable Places Project comes CAPCOG’s Prosperous Places Program (P3), a host of new planning and economic development services to help local communities proactively seize the future.

P3 offers a suite of analytics tools built to identify opportunities for development and evaluate on a wide range of important planning and economic development issues.

> Bookmark the Prosperous Places Program Web page

The program is a natural transition from the grant-funded Sustainable Places Project, which built the suite of tools and provided revitalization strategies and policy guidance for Austin, Dripping Springs, Elgin, Hutto and Lockhart. These participating communities applied beta versions of the P3 tools to align housing, jobs and transportation options, complement existing community values and strengthen their economies.

For example, the planning team revised the design standards for several city-owned properties, making them more marketable to developers, adaptable to economic changes and attractive to the project’s team of stakeholders.

A key strength of the P3 toolkit? Its basis in financial aspects of planning. The tools incorporate research about what can be built in a community within a given time horizon, grounding public initiatives with market realities.

> Learn about CAPCOG's Community & Economic Development Division

Another strength? Flexibility. Once the data is in hand, the model for a community can be changed quickly, and most indicator outputs become automatic. Multiple scenarios can be created to analyze everything from public sector fiscal impacts (“Can we afford this type of growth?”) to proximity to essential services (“How many people could live within walking distance of the new school?”).

P3 also can deliver realistic, easily revised 3D renderings of potential buildings from the street level.

The project process works on a range of scales. Staff can study development potential of one parcel, examining how policy changes such as zoning and parking requirements could affect the likelihood of development or the efficiency of incentives. P3 also offers tools to look at a whole city district, like the plans created through the demonstration sites of the Sustainable Places Project.

> Get started with Community & Economic Development Director Michael Hennig

Current P3 projects include studying potential transportation mode shifts at the regional level that might come from continued activity-center growth. The City of Austin is using the tools to calculate personal savings and gross-domestic-product growth that could be generated by new transportation investments envisioned in its transit-system exploration, Project Connect.

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