Economic Development Projects
As the core of FXM’s practice, our work in economic development requires an objective assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of local and regional economies. We conduct personal interviews, surveys, and other research to identify and understand the business types, market position, labor force, infrastructure, educational, financial, institutional, and other attributes particular to a local area economy. At the same time, knowledge of broader regional and national industry trends and cycles is brought to bear in creating blueprints for action specific to a local area’s unique economic development potential. FXM Associates’ public and private clients can attest to our record of success in helping them achieve goals of economic growth, stabilization, or restructuring.
In addition to the sample of projects described below, other examples of FXM’s work in economic development can be found in the Transportation, Downtown Revitalization, and Waterfronts project descriptions elsewhere on this website.
Marlborough Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan
City of Marlborough and Marlborough Economic Development Corporation
FXM Associates led a multi-disciplinary consultant team preparing an economic development master plan for the City of Marlborough that articulated a vision for the community’s economic future with an implementation goals and objectives for the next several years. Working with The Cecil Group, AECOM Engineers and Economic Development Research Group, the team examined opportunities to strengthen the City’s technology-based industrial sectors, and accommodate start-up firms and small businesses to increase commercial property tax revenues. FXM assessed market potential for industrial, commercial and residential uses and, with team members, examined local and regional labor markets, issues affecting Marlborough quality of life, and adequacy of local utility, energy, transportation and telecommunication infrastructure. The FXM proprietary Housing Demand Model was used to assess regional and local demand for target household types likely to contribute net fiscal revenues to the City. The master plan also included a projected build-out of developable property, as and review of zoning regulations, development approval process, and the City’s capacity to execute economic development initiatives and recommendations. (Completed 2011)
This project received the Best Planning Project Award from the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association (2011).
Sewer Infrastructure Economic Impact Analysis
Office of Community Planning, Town of North Reading, Massachusetts
FXM Associates evaluated potential economic and fiscal effects of proposed installation of municipal sewer service to accommodate increased commercial development on Concord Street and Main Streets. The analysis was based on types and amounts of commercial uses allowed under existing zoning regulations, supplemented with data from real estate industry sources and input from interviews with commercial brokers, developers and property managers. Kleinfelder SEA engineers worked with FXM to compile a comprehensive parcel database for the two study areas from town assessor records and GIS mapping system. The consultants estimated increased commercial property value and density attributable to municipal sewer service, and described market factors that might limit buildout potential. This report included an analysis of current and projected local and regional real estate market conditions, and estimated potential additional commercial property tax revenue from installation of municipal sewer service. (Completed 2011)
West End Neighborhood Brownfields Redevelopment Study
City of Chicopee, Massachusetts, Pioneer Valley Regional Planning Commission
The Chicopee Gateway City Downtown Revitalization Plan provided the overall context for FXM Associates to analyze near-term market opportunities to advance redevelopment objectives for multiple brownfield sites in the West End neighborhood. Working with The Cecil Group consultant team, FXM assessed market-driven opportunities for light industrial, commercial retail and office, and residential development potential within the downtown area, evaluated the economic feasibility of selected properties, and identified potential financing strategies to undertake proposed reuse/redevelopment of priority brownfield sites. The FXM proprietary Housing Demand Model was applied to identify market for housing by type (ownership or rental), price, and householder age, and the citywide demand was refined to determine potential demand in the study area. Collaborating with neighborhood residents, merchants, property owners, and other local stakeholders was an essential component of the FXM market assessment, which also involved participated in public workshops to formulate business recruitment plans. The West End area-wide plan vision and components identified infrastructure and public realm improvements and economic development policy to facilitate site-specific development scenarios and stimulate private investment. (Completion in 2012)
Mariamante Priority Development Site Market Study
Town of Gill, MA
Working with Tighe & Bond engineers, FXM Associates assessed market opportunities supporting a feasible development program for this 13-acre site near Route 2 proposed for C. 43D expedited permitting. FXM analyzed historical trends and conditions influencing commercial and light industrial real estate activity in the Gill-Greenfield area and beyond, and estimated projected market absorption. FXM examined demographic and economic data, and investigated state funding for site infrastructure as well as business development incentives. FXM senior staff interviewed business owners, commercial real estate brokers, industrial park managers, economic development and real estate professionals. Preliminary findings indicated market support for the Town’s preferred development concept, however, more detailed archeological investigations determined the site had historical significance, and consideration of future development concluded.
Newport Harbor Economic Study
University of Rhode Island, Coastal Resources Center, City of Newport, Rhode Island
This unique study was commissioned to determine the importance of water-dependent and other waterfront uses to the municipal economy and tax revenues. Conventional wisdom has been that waterfront residential condominiums, hotels, restaurants and retail shops generate more local tax revenues than marinas, ship repair facilities, excursion/charter operations, and landside businesses servicing commercial and recreational vessels. FXM Associates derived the per acre yield in municipal revenues for each category of Newport waterfront land use from a comprehensive property data base developed by URI CRC staff and City officials, as well as visitor surveys, interviews, and secondary source data on business sales and spending by type of consumer. The study findings addressed direct and indirect municipal revenue attributable to waterfront uses, and showed that water-dependent uses yield significantly more per acre in municipal revenues than any other land use type – 2.5 times more than residential condominiums, for example. The study will help guide future City zoning and infrastructure investment decisions, as well as provide planning and elected officials with an objective basis for evaluation of proposed waterfront development projects. (Completed 2010)
South Coast Rail Economic Development and Land Use Corridor Plan
Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
FXM Associates served as lead economist on this study examining economic development, Smart Growth, and transit-oriented development (TOD) potential that could be influenced by commuter rail service between the Boston region and 31 communities in southeastern Massachusetts. FXM prepared an assessment of current and projected employment, income, population, housing, tax, and industry characteristics within each community and the region as overall, as well as long term market-driven real estate development potential with and without commuter rail. For this project, FXM developed an innovative Revenue Model to show the extent to which residential and commercial real estate development within Transit Oriented Development (TOD) districts and new long term employment statewide leveraged by commuter rail might be used to help finance project costs, including real estate value capture and new state sales and income taxes from productivity gains attributable to the proposed commuter rail service. (Completed 2009) Executive Summary and Full Report available at www.southcoastrail.com
This project received the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association Best Comprehensive Planning Project Award (2009) and the Congress of New Urbanism’s National Best Project Award (2010).
Port of New Bedford South Terminal Development Plan
Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs commissioned an engineering and economic evaluation of Commonwealth ports suitable to service offshore wind energy development. FXM Associates assessed economic and fiscal consequences of prospective development projects to the Massachusetts economy. For the proposed South Terminal facility, FXM identified potential new cargoes in addition to off-shore wind projects; and prepared a business plan with projected costs and revenues, potential economic effects, and facility fee schedule. In October 2010, Governor Patrivk announced plans to construct South Terminal as the nation’s first port facility designed specifically to support off-shore wind projects.. Cape Wind will use this facility during construction and manufacturing phases of its 130-turbine off-shore array, creating as amany as 1,000 jobs in southeastern Massachusetts. In addition to support of offshore wind energy projects, FXM identified container, bulk, and break bulk cargoes that could be serviced from a new port at South Terminal and that would generate net new economic benefits to Massachusetts. FXM also prepared a business plan and economic and fiscal impact assessment for these cargo services, showing that the port could cover annual operating costs, generate sufficient net income to support annual operation, and produce net new tax benefits to the state justifying additional capital investment by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Recently (2012), the governor opf Massachusetts announced that Massachusetts would provide a $35 million capital investment for the South termional Port construction.
Life Sciences Outlook in the I-93 Tri-Town Corridor
Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development
As part of the EIS being prepared for a proposed new I-93 interchange, FXM Associates analyzed trends and projected growth of Life Sciences industries for the Massachusetts Department off Transportation and Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. The study focused on the Tri-Town Project Area of Andover, Wilmington and Tewksbury, and surrounding communities. FXM documented business activity, employment and facility characteristics of Life Sciences industries, particularly medical device and biopharmaceutical manufacturers, and export sales generated by these firms. FXM examined initiatives to expand the Massachusetts Life Sciences cluster, and evaluated recent growth compared to other industries. The study found that Life Sciences employment statewide had grown at a rate exceeding all other industry jobs, and Tri-Town employment in Life Sciences companies had increased while other jobs declined over the last decade.
Framingham Master Plan
Town of Framingham, Massachusetts
Working with The Cecil Group, FXM Associates prepared an assessment of key economic development opportunities for existing and potential business activity town-wide and within target planning areas. The target planning areas represented commercial and employment centers with important economic relationships to the Town’s overall economy and future prosperity. FXM analyzed the Town’s competitive status within the MetroWest region, local economic development assets and resources, as well as site-specific opportunities for new commercial uses in the context of regional employment trends. This economic development study recommended strategies and policies to enhance resident workforce skills and educational training, support business development, advance marketing efforts, as well as guide land use, zoning and public improvements to facilitate private investment in property and businesses.
Route 28 Corridor Study
Town of Yarmouth, Massachusetts and the Cape Cod Commission
FXM Associates conducted a regional and local market analysis identifying short and longer term opportunities to expand and consolidate commercial development along the Route 28 corridor. FXM research included interviews and meetings with key property and business owners along this established but aging and under-utilized commercial strip. The FXM analyses of market conditions indicated limited new growth potential and few prospects for market-driven office, retail, or service commercial development except for replacement demand and turnover. The market assessment, interviews and meetings helped convince property owners to consider consolidating their development rights focused on key areas where clustered development could occur, presenting more viable, attractive development opportunities rather than continuing the historical pattern of scattered strip commercial uses. Working with The Cecil Group, architects and urban designers, FXM assisted formulation of a comprehensive strategic implementation plan with local zoning and site plan review initiatives as well as refinements to the Priority Development Area policies of the Cape Cod Commission.
Shirley Avenue Neighborhood Gateway City Planning Initiative
City of Revere, Massachusetts and Massachusetts Department od Housing & Community Development
The Shirley Avenue neighborhood in Revere is comprised of a very diverse racial and ethnic population with primary languages including Khmer, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic, as well as English. Many residents are recent immigrants and most households have limited income. The project addressed infrastructure, open space and public landscaping improvements, housing and business conditions, and social networks to afford greater economic opportunities for residents. FXM participated in neighborhood visioning sessions led by Goody Clancy Associates, prime consultant, examined economic conditions, and recommend ways to help local businesses expand sales and employment. FXM also identified workforce skill training and educational resources, and suggested ways to improve outreach efforts of regional employment agencies, community development corporations, private employers, and community colleges serving Shirley Avenue area residents.
Regency Tower Market Study
Trinity Financial, a Boston real estate development company, retained FXM Associates to prepare a market study evaluating the feasibility of rehabilitation plans for the 138-unit Regency Tower building in New Bedford. FXM partnered with Byrne-McKinney and examined availability, amenities and pricing of comparable residential properties, and projected rental rates and absorption for their proposed renovation plans. As part of this analysis, FXM applied its proprietary Housing Demand Model that uses projections of mobility rates by age and household type, propensity to own or rent by age and income of household head, net new growth, and projections of households by age and income to estimate regional and local demand for housing products by type and pricing. The FXM market study provided Trinity with documentation to secure financing, finalize rehabilitation plans, and target advertising. Apartment leasing began in January 2011 and reached full occupancy in September 2011.
Technology Business Park Market Assessment
A.D. Makepeace Company, Wareham, Massachusetts
FXM Associates was contracted by a private land owner/developer to analyze the potential for specialized commercial development on approximately 1,200 acres of property located adjacent to Route 28 in Wareham and targeted as a business development zone by the town. FXM examined market conditions influencing current and foreseeable regional and local demand for technology-based office, light manufacturing, healthcare, laboratory, and R&D space. The analysis related demand for commercial uses to specific property attributes in terms of absorption potential over a 5-year period by type, quantity, and price. The assessment included investigating property sales, building leases, tenant profiles, and expansion plans at several southeastern Massachusetts industrial and business parks to identify effective build-out approaches, and examining growth projections, workforce characteristics, and infrastructure requirements for technology-oriented or knowledge-based businesses. FXM also suggested marketing strategies and other initiatives to realize the development potential of the site.
Aerovox Superfund Site Redevelopment Analysis
City of New Bedford, Massachusetts
FXM Associates assisted The Cecil Group in an evaluation of physical and market conditions affecting potential reuse and redevelopment of the contaminated Aerovox site in the North End neighborhood. FXM reviewed reports of brownfields redevelopment and other secondary source material, conducted interviews with local real estate brokers, planning and economic development agency representatives, EPA Superfund site managers, firms with specialized expertise in brownfield reuse, owners of adjacent manufacturing buildings, and others knowledgeable about business and real estate activity in the greater New Bedford area. FXM prepared a market overview that assessed potentially feasible industrial and commercial uses, based on the EPA remedial plan and proposed site organization plans. The demand analysis identified target market segments, historical conditions in local supply, critical market factors, and possible competing ‘pipeline’ projects. The financial feasibility assessment of proposed industrial and commercial reuse scenario for the property included pro forma illustrating projected expenses, income, and development costs.
Spencer Town Center Revitalization Plan
Town of Spencer, MA
For the Town of Spencer, FXM assessed market-driven potential to expand the commercial base of the Town Center Area. The Town Center Area of Spencer is exceptionally well-used by residents of this rural community west of Worcester but has seen little new investment in buildings or land development in many years. FXM's analysis uncovered substantial retail gap opportunities to expand restaurants and selected retail goods shops, and potential niche markets for small residential and office projects. Working with The Cecil Group, senior FXM professionals participated in public visioning workshops and helped the consultant team and client craft public and private implementation and funding strategies to realize existing and projected economic development opportunities.
Bristol Industrial Park Planning Study
Town of Bristol, Rhode Island
The Bristol Industrial Park (BIP) is a privately owned 15-acre site of predominantly single story, 19th century historic industrial buildings comprising the former Kaiser Aluminum plant in downtown Bristol. Current tenants are small boat building and other manufacturing and distribution industries, artisans, and other small businesses. Most of the people who work at BIP also live in Bristol. The property went into receivership and the town became concerned that the 200 jobs, $20 million in business sales, and $5 million in payroll represented at the park might be lost if the property were converted to other uses by a new owner. FXM was retained to develop a strategy for retaining and expanding the current uses and led a team that included Earth Tech, Inc. (environmental engineers), Urban Design Group (urban designers), as well as legal and financial specialists. The study assessed market conditions and prospects, building conditions, environmental remediation requirements, zoning and other regulatory mechanisms, brownfield and other potential funding to protect the existing uses and assure goals and objectives of the town for employment and increased taxes. The study also considered the feasibility of proposed construction of affordable housing on a portion of the BIP site. FXM's report recommended enhancing existing zoning, streetscape and landscape treatments to buffer surrounding residential uses, and a cooperative venture with potential new private or non-profit owners to secure tax credits and remediation funds to fix deteriorated buildings, clean up and market the site, and maintain low rents for current and prospective small business tenants.
Direct, Indirect, and Induced Effects of Chain Stores on the Cape Cod Regional Economy
Cape Cod Smart Planning & Growth Coalition
FXM assessed the effect that big box and other chain retailers could have on the overall economy of Cape Cod if growth in retail demand were largely captured by the chains by 2014. The study involved an analysis of secondary source data and case studies done in other communities; an independent baseline econometric forecast of population, employment, and income growth in the regional economy; and application of the R/Econ input output model to measure total direct, indirect, and induced effects on output, jobs, earned income, profits and other unearned income, and local, state, and federal taxes. The study concluded that if chain stores captured 50 percent of forecast growth in retail demand that by 2014 the Cape Cod region would lose over 9,000 jobs, $600 million per year in business output, over $200 million per year in household income, and over $10 million per year in local taxes.
North River Canal Neighborhood Redevelopment Strategy
City of Salem, Massachusetts
Working with Goody-Clancy Associates, FXM conducted an economic assessment of the potential for redevelopment of the historic industrial/commercial and residential neighborhood around the North River Canal and park in Salem, Massachusetts. FXM’s analysis included an overview of the market potential for expanding an adjacent neighborhood of historic homes, a summary of local demographics and expected market demand for retail and service uses to be developed at a key road intersection, and suggestions for reuse of three former industrial properties.
This study won a Massachusetts Smart Growth Initiative award.
Comprehensive Plan for Nantucket, Massachusetts
Nantucket Planning and Economic Development Commission
FXM Associates conducted economic and fiscal analyses, including an assessment of long-term changes in the local economy, as part of the Comprehensive Plan for the Island of Nantucket. The study involved ways to control development; concentrate growth in areas for which it is desirable, and to discourage it in areas where it is undesirable; a strategy for long-term economic diversification and mechanisms to achieve a sustainable economy (with limited new building construction); and public and private sector strategies for land acquisition, education, and financing of infrastructure and new business ventures.
Erie Canal/Erie and Niagara Counties Economic Development Strategy
Erie County (New York) Planning Department
FXM Associates, in association with Trowbridge & Wolf, Landscape Architects, prepared an economic development strategy and corridor recreation plan associated with the Erie Canal in Erie and Niagara Counties in western New York State. FXM Associates assisted in concept development, and prepared market and financial feasibility analyses for expanded tour boat operations, visitor attractions, and specific development sites in the Tonowandas, Lockport, and other canal communities in the region. Among the findings of FXM’s analysis –subsequently embraced in a statewide policy guiding development along the Erie Canal – was the importance of retaining the natural and cultural amenities of the canal both for their intrinsic value and as a quality of life amenity serving the residents and businesses along the canal. Investments in tourist-oriented infrastrucuture should be limited to specific nodes and not become an overarching objective of canal management.
This study won the American Planning Association (APA) Upstate New York Outstanding Project Award for 1996.
Plymouth County Hospital Reuse Study,
Phases I & II
Town of Hanson, Massachusetts
FXM Associates performed analyses of market and financial conditions for two reuse options selected by the Town of Hanson for the former Plymouth County Hospital site in Hanson, including a commercial sports facility and senior housing. The primary focus of this evaluation was to assess whether the market and site could support tax-generating reuse options for a portion of the 45-acre site, with the vast majority of the site kept for passive recreational uses. FXM conducted a schematic market analysis of developing one-third of the site into assisted living and independent housing for seniors by combining use of the historical hospital building with new construction. FXM also examined the costs related to building a skating rink or senior housing, and gathered data on the income level that could be achieved to arrive at a level of financial feasibility. With both the market data and the dollar figures relating to either facility, a judgment was made to recommend reusing the hospital and part of the site for senior housing, but not to recommend an ice rink (or any other sports facility) for the Plymouth County Hospital site. A unit mix and estimates of income and sales figures were provided for the senior housing. A general sense of the fiscal impact on the town of having part of the site developed for senior housing (versus single family subdivision) and town-supported recreational use was provided.