Public and Private Development

Cities are developed by an elaborate blend of public and private actions. This has not always been the case; in the past, there was a clearer delineation between and shared understanding about public and private roles and responsibilities in the development process. Today, however, development is increasingly accomplished under conditions of blurred boundaries and surprising reallocations as public and private parties participate to a greater extent in what each other does. Government becomes involved in private development through direct and tax subsidies, land acquisition and disposition, strategic provision of capital infrastructure and facilities, and intensive regulatory review. Governments may even become financial partners in the development structure, sharing in a private project\’s cash flow. The modern developer assumes a \”public\” personae at strategic moments, agreeing to provide capital infrastructure and facilities, social amenities, and municipal services previously financed and delivered by local government. She now engages government and citizens in project planning and design in ways unthinkable less than a generation ago. This enhanced intermingling of public and private roles and responsibilities raises novel and challenging issues for urban planners, designers, and policy makers. It demands invention or tailoring of analytical frameworks and techniques, creation of new legal and institutional arrangements, and sophisticated calculation of political relationships. For example, public actors must comprehend and appreciate the financial realities of private development and deal structures in order to negotiate successful public-private partnerships or impose reasonable regulatory burdens. Private actors must interpret a complex spectrum of public goals and acquire navigational skills befitting an environment in which public claims to private profit may be expected to continue. Both players must understand how the new equations reassign entrepreneurial risk and public interest oversight, and how such reassignments spur intended and unintended consequences for the physical, economic, and social development of cities. This course examines, through lectures, discussions, case studies, and exercises, the issues, analytical frameworks, and methods of public and private development in American metropolitan areas. Part I: Analytical Frameworks and Techniques, discusses the financial, economic, legal, institutional, political, and other urban planning frameworks and techniques necessary to make decisions about public and private development. Part II: Public Provision of Subsidies, explores the array of direct and indirect subsidies used to implement public and private development. Part III: Public Provision of Land and Infrastructure, analyzes public provision of non-cash, less transparent elements commonly used by government and sought by developers to encourage and direct development activities. Part IV: Private Provision of Public Benefits, examines how physical infrastructure, social amenities, and municipal services provided by private developers are obtained through special regulatory and taxation regimes. Several guest speakers engaged in current or recent public-private development efforts will present actual projects to the class.