Land Use and Infrastructure Investments by Olympic Host Cities


On Friday, October 2nd, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will select a host city for the 2016 Summer Games. The City of Chicago has submitted an extensive and thoughtful bid book that proposes a compact games centered on the lakefront and embracing the diversity of the city. Many cities would welcome the opportunity to achieve global recognition, and while the Olympics accelerate that opportunity, not every city is well-equipped to host the Games.  Chicago has that necessary aptitude to be a host city and can take advantage of the resulting benefits.  However, to gain the optimum benefit from the 2016 Summer Olympics, Chicago must use the Games as an investment catalyst that will spearhead long-term improvements in infrastructure, new developments, and city amenities and services.


Chicago 2016’s bid book includes a thorough budget for hosting the Games.  However, it does not elaborate on costs, or revenue sources, associated with improvements to municipal infrastructure, such as roadways, airports, public transportation, public spaces, and telecommunications.  These projects are simply said to occur as part of the city’s “natural growth.” Simply following the path of natural growth, however, would result on a significant missed opportunity to fully leverage the Olympic Games.


In this paper we address the issue of long-term land-use and infrastructure projects (legacy projects) that Olympic host cities commonly undertake, and the potential economic benefit of these legacy projects. This builds upon another recently released paper on the topic of the Olympics and their economic impacts—The Likely Economic Impact of a Chicago 2016 Summer Olympics—that was authored by one of this paper’s co-authors. That paper focused solely on the economic impacts that the games, as presented in Chicago 2016’s bid book, would likely have on the city and county. This paper goes a step further and discusses strategies for maximizing public investments so that projects commissioned prior to the Olympics create long-running economic value within the city.

Market Strategy: Witt Property & Downtown Riverfront Development

The City of Adrian, located in southern Michigan, is home to a historic downtown, three centers of education, and the Lenawaee County seat.  The City and its Downtown Development Authority identified two areas that were being underutilized, and retained Anderson Economic Group to develop a market strategy for both its Witt Property and the downtown riverfront.

We started the project by visiting the market, interviewing key stakeholders, and inventorying local retail supply to supplement our retail database. We combined this with our quantitative analyses, including demographic projections, a drive-time analysis and trade area delineation, a retail supply-demand analysis, a consumer expenditure analysis, and a residential unit absorption assessment. We then drafted a market strategy, with specific recommendations, for each of the two properties. Our strategy included residential, retail, and entertainment opportunities, specific project types and staging, and tenant recommendations for retail space.

We documented our analysis, findings, methods, and recommendations in a final report, which was delivered to the DDA and community leaders. The report included a detailed data appendix, visual examples and development options, and a concise executive summary to highlight our findings, and is available on the City of Adrian Economic Development web site, and from the link below.

Location Analysis and Market Analysis: Lansing Community College

Lansing Community College (LCC) desired to consolidate its multiple off-campus programs into fewer facilities, called Learning Centers, to offer better and more consistent service than could be provided when using facilities owned and operated by third parties. Anderson Economic Group was retained to provide a market analysis and location strategy to identify locations that offer the best access to potential students, and fulfill the requirements of the college.

As the baseline of our analysis, we completed a demographic assessment of the Lansing Community College service area using our Geographic Information System (GIS) and historical LCC student data. We then conducted a rigorous analysis of 25 regions in the college’s service area. We narrowed the list of potential markets based on population thresholds and projected student penetration rates, as well as other factors like transportation linkages, highway visibility, access, and proximity to other urban areas. We then assessed specific sites, and were able to recommend a location strategy aligning the college’s facility requirements with market opportunities and available sites.

We documented our market analysis, methodology, and findings in a report for the college. This included an executive summary, sections to detail our findings and recommendations, and a full data appendix with market demographics and trend information that the college can use in other planning efforts. The report was provided to the college’s director of learning centers, and used in their expansion plans.

Corridor Market Analysis and Retail Strategy: The Dorr Street Corridor Coalition, Toledo, Ohio

Anderson Economic Group was retained to develop a retail strategy for the Dorr Street corridor, a major east/west arterial road at the core of the Greater Toledo metropolitan area. This corridor connects the University of Toledo to the city’s downtown, passing through a number of culturally diverse neighborhoods along the way. The corridor was under-served in retail, requiring local residents to travel to other retail destinations for basic needs and competitive pricing.

In developing the retail strategy for the corridor, we conducted a supply-demand (gap) analysis, fieldwork within the corridor and Toledo retail market, delineation of a primary trade area, and qualification of the results using our expertise in the retail industry and first-hand knowledge gathered in the market. Based on our analyses we concluded that there was opportunity for a specific amount of new retail square footage in 35 categories. We recommended a split of the retail opportunity in three distinct nodes along the corridor, including two major intersections and a third clustering to better link the corridor to the University of Toledo.

Our analysis and strategy recommendations were documented in a report, and provided to The Collaborative, a planning and engineering firm in Toledo that was managing the redevelopment effort. They have used the report to guide their efforts and focus preliminary investments into projects with the greatest potential for large impacts.

Economic Assessment and Commercial Development Strategy Scio Township DDA

In planning for future growth in the community, the Township of Scio, through its Downtown Development Authority and the Economic Study Task Force, retained Anderson Economic Group to complete an economic development strategic.

We started with a rigorous economic analysis, pinpointing the industries and occupations with the most growth opportunity in coming years. We also analyzed the employment base from which workers would come, identified a measurable gap in office space, and uncovered current and projected demographic trends of the area. Our findings led us to recommend a plan to locate businesses along the Jackson road corridor, with an emphasis on the Baker and Zeeb Road interchanges for increased visibility and accessibility.

Our recommendations, which were documented along with the details of our analysis in a final report and presentation, included developing a business campus with Class A office space and limited retail; creating a town center atmosphere at the intersection of Zeeb and Jackson Roads; and to physically integrate future development along Jackson Road with connecting roads, shared parking, and common access points.

Downtown Retail Market Strategy: St. Clair, Michigan DDA

The City of St. Clair and its Downtown Development Authority retained McKenna Associates to create a vision for downtown St. Clair. As a part of that effort, Anderson Economic Group was retained to develop a strategy for retail revitalization in the downtown.

Our retail market strategy analyzed the development potential for the community with an emphasis on economic catalysts to benefit retail.  In completing a supply/demand analysis, we determined that there was opportunity for new retail in 20 categories, and a clear need to better meet the wants and needs of both residents and visitors. We also presented strategies for invigorating retail and development in St. Clair, including: consolidating some existing businesses into a retail cluster, recruiting an additional anchor tenant, adding higher-quality dining options, and improving use of the riverfront.

Our analysis and findings were documented in a final report, complete with recommendations and strategy, and provided to the St. Clair DDA and McKenna Associates.

Market Analysis and Mixed-Use Development Strategy: Old Brooklyn Neighborhood, Cleveland, Ohio

The Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation hired Anderson Economic Group to provide a comprehensive market analysis and strategy for their location in the Cleveland, Ohio region.

We began the study with a comprehensive analysis of the local and regional economies, demographics, and market trends. We also toured the market area, inventoried market supply and assessed local demand, and met with local stakeholders to gauge their views of the market and its strategic direction. We also reviewed existing planning efforts, past reports, and their current efforts, and developed a strategy to build on existing momentum and provide specific advise on the development potential for retail, housing, office space, and sports and recreational venues.

Upon completing our analysis, we prepared a final report and presentation for the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation. This included detailed data, custom maps of the market, specific strategies, and a concise executive summary.

Residential Real Estate Feasibility Study: Macatawa Development, LLC; Holland, Michigan

Anderson Economic Group was retained to provide our professional opinion regarding the development potential of a proposed residential development along Lake Michigan, just west of the City of Holland, Michigan.

The client, Macatawa Development LLC, was in early planning phases, and requested a preliminary assessment of their plans. We completed this through a combination of research in the existing market, field visits to the site and competing sites, limited analysis of available data on comparable for-sale units in the market, and a review of the development plans.

We provided the developer with a preliminary recommendations memo, outlining the opportunities in the market, the strengths of their plans, and also the risks associated with the project. We highlighted the unique locational attributes of the project (waterfront), noted the potential for the project to succeed, and recommended they consider a full demand analysis to ensure the highest and best use of the property.

Review of Existing Renaissance Zones/Federal Renewal Community Application: City of Detroit, Michigan

 The City of Detroit, founded in 1701, is one of the nation's largest cities, and the center of one of the nation's largest metropolitan areas. The City of Detroit sought the review of its existing Renaissance Zones, which were originally designated by the state in 1996 and then expanded with the assistance of our firm in 2000. The city again retained Anderson Economic Group to aid in the review, revise the criteria, examine opportunities and costs, and recommend action by the city. A review committee including our project team, the city's planning and development department, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and the city assessor's office recommended that the city not extend their existing zones at the time, given the results of our cost/benefit analysis and statutory review.

The city requested our review of a new federal law establishing a “Renewal Community” economic incentive program. Our analysis revealed the city would be a candidate for such a designation, and we recommended that the city file an application with HUD.

Anderson Economic Group advised the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department during the Renewal Community application process, outlining an appropriate process, identifying specific tax benefits to employers and investors, preparing documents and graphics summarizing economic conditions, working with State economic development and housing officials to confirm a course of action, and analyzing census statistics to define the best qualified application area. Our project team, with the City of Detroit, produced and delivered to HUD the entire application packet within 15 business days.

HUD’s review process followed a competitive procedure outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations, under a federal law that limited designations to the 40 most qualified. The designation was awarded to the city on January 18, 2002, making it eligible for $17 billion in development and tax incentives.

The State Economic Handbook, 2009

Edited by Scott Watkins and Patrick L. Anderson

The State Economic Handbook is an annual reference book profiling the economy, demography, political environment, and business climates for each of the 50 states.