Several vendors provide “market reports” that offer estimates of the retail potential in areas defined by the user. How good is that data? Not long ago, we published a white paper addressing that question. In a nutshell, the answer is that they are often wildly inaccurate.
We are not alone in stating this. An analysis by the Institute for a Competitive Inner City found the same. In their efforts to verify the source data they found egregious errors that call into question the validity of the results.
Our white paper, Algorithms, Assumptions and Ignorance: Just How Reliable are the Numbers in Your Market Analysis?, describes the problems in these reports in detail.
The City of Marshfield, Wisconsin adopted the downtown plan prepared by Place Dynamics with the assistance of Short, Elliott and Hendrickson. This teaming led to an action-oriented strategy based on sound market research and a realization of opportunities for the downtown district. We could talk about it, but how about instead we offer the words of one Council member:
I have been given the privilege of seeing the entire plan and having the entire presentation both on the Plan Commission and through the Economic Development Board. We’ve looked at this quite closely. There are a number of features in this plan that I am very enthusiastic about and I am supporting wholeheartedly. One of them is that for the first time in dealing with our downtown, you guys have identified that there a lot of different downtowns and there are different treatments that have to be done to each of those areas, as opposed to just one big area, and saying that ‘this is downtown and you need to do all of these things in it’.
The other thing I like about it is that you have been very, very practical in the redevelopment area, phasing it in and showing us what we can do in three years, five years, ten, and maybe even for twenty years. That is something that is doable – the old story of how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And that is what we are going to have to do here.
The other thing that is very good, that I think it is important for the Council to know, that we have struggled with as a Council, is who are the players and who does what? This plan spells out very clearly not only who the players are, but what the tasks of each player are in each strategy and each goal. This is probably the most well-defined work program I have ever seen for downtown. It is something we can sink our teeth into and budget to it, which we have already done, actually. In the Capital Improvements Plan we have already set aside some funds for the start of the 2nd Street corridor. We can do this. We can implement this. This is not a plan written by twenty and read by three. This is a plan that will be implemented and I am very pleased about that.
The last thing is that we have always argued that to make downtown and Main Street thrive we needed a critical mass of people to support the retail end of it, to support the entertainment end of it, and that sort of thing. This plan shows us how to get to that critical mass through place-making as well as utilization of existing space, and for residential. I am more enthused about this plan than any plan that I have seen in the past twenty years.
Place Dynamics worked with Sun Prairie to prepare a new marketing materials highlighting advantages of the city to prospective businesses, developers, and others. These materials showcase the community’s rapid growth, recent business and real estate development activities, and assets.
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(Several of the original posts have been transferred from our previous blog site.)