Cities in the United States have, since World War II, lost a substantial share of their businesses to the suburbs, and their tax bases have suffered as a result. One response to this trend has been to establish new local development organizations, often a collaboration between the private and public sectors.20 One type of local development organization is the Business Improvement District (BID). BIDs are “private local governments” that supplement the package of public services in certain areas through additional taxes paid by local businesses.

Another type of local organization is the Community Development Corporation (CDCs): nonprofit, community-based organizations focused on revitalizing the areas in which they are located, typically low-income, underserved neighborhoods that have experienced significant disinvestment.22

Although these local development organizations generate positive impacts on commercial property values as well as sanitation and management of neighborhoods, there is considerable variation in the impact across BIDs and CDCs of different types. Part of this variation comes from poor centralization and the lack of efficient systems to gather, analyze and share neighborhood knowledge.

Furthermore, the U.S. is at a pivotal point in terms of infrastructure and real estate development. Mass urbanization needs to be as participatory as possible to engage different communities in the creation of neighborhood developments. This means involving not only local citizens and governments but also real estate and urban developers in order to create a dialogue between businesses, the public sector and citizens.

URBAN-X Cohort 02 company CITIESENSE organizes the most accurate information about neighborhoods in cities – such as storefront vacancy, sales, foot traffic, and more – to better inform local market demand and neighborhood dynamics.


This thought piece has been put together by the URBAN-X team; with research support from Felix Keser and Adrian Dahlin.

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