here) by Charles Montgomery that breaks down the dollars and cents (or is it "sense"?) of locating a Walmart in downtown--Asheville, my hometown, in this case--or choosing to develop smaller, locally-owned shops. The difference is both astonishing and a solid case, using basic math, for sending Walmart somewhere else.
Here's some of what Montgomery wrote:
"To explain, Minicozzi offered me his classic urban accounting
smackdown, using two competing properties: On the one side is a downtown
building his firm rescued—a six-story steel-framed 1923 classic once
owned by JCPenney and converted into shops, offices, and condos. On the
other side is a Walmart on the edge of town. The old Penney’s building
sits on less than a quarter of an acre, while the Walmart and its
parking lots occupy thirty-four acres.
"Adding up the property and sales
tax paid on each piece of land, Minicozzi found that the Walmart
contributed only $50,800 to the city in retail and property taxes for
each acre it used, but the JCPenney building contributed a whopping
$330,000 per acre in property tax alone. In other words, the city got
more than seven times the return for every acre on downtown investments
than it did when it broke new ground out on the city limits.
Minicozzi looked at job density, the difference was even more vivid: the
small businesses that occupied the old Penney’s building employed
fourteen people, which doesn’t seem like many until you realize that
this is actually seventy-four jobs per acre, compared with the fewer
than six jobs per acre created on a sprawling Walmart site. (This is
particularly dire given that on top of reducing jobs density in its host
cities, Walmart depresses average wages as well.) ...
"Minicozzi has since found the same spatial conditions in cities all over
the United States. Even low-rise, mixed-use buildings of two or three
stories—the kind you see on an old-style, small-town main street—bring
in ten times the revenue per acre as that of an average big-box
development. What’s stunning is that, thanks to the relationship between
energy and distance, large-footprint sprawl development patterns can
actually cost cities more to service than they give back in taxes. The
result? Growth that produces deficits that simply cannot be overcome
with new growth revenue."