In Cities Around the Country, New Action on Commercial Affordability

by Olivia Lavecchia
Originally published in ILSR Hometown Advantage Bulletin
In many U.S. cities, finding and keeping an affordable location has become a major challenge for independent businesses. Two years ago, we took an in-depth look at the issue in our report, Affordable Space: How Rising Commercial Rents Are Threatening Independent Businesses, and What Cities Are Doing About It. We examined what’s causing the problem — from real estate financing that compels developers to exclude independent businesses, to the declining supply of small spaces — and also outlined six strategies that cities were beginning to use to address it.
Now, one of those strategies is catching on: Set-asides for local businesses in new development. It’s a strategy that requires developers to reserve, or “set aside,” space for small or local businesses in new construction, and it can help ensure that a built environment that’s suited to small businesses isn’t replaced with one designed for chains. In three cities — New York, Portland, Ore., and Boulder, Colo. — there are new programs that offer examples for how set-asides can work. Here’s what they look like. READ MORE