Research Value of U.S.
Downtowns and Center Cities

Great Cities and Regions Start Downtown

A strong downtown is critical for a successful city and region. Downtowns and center cities are where people, capital, and ideas coalesce due to size, proximity and density. This groundbreaking study articulates the inherent value a downtown provides to the greater city, highlighting a downtown’s unique and impactful contributions while accounting for 100+ key data points based on economy, inclusion, vibrancy, identity, and resilience. Read the Executive Summary here.

Research Value of U.S.
Downtowns and Center Cities principles

The second edition updates The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities study with data and analysis that expands the scope to a total of 24 downtowns with urban place management organizations across the United States. With two years of data, IDA grouped each of the center cities into one of three downtown tiers: Emerging Downtowns, Growing Downtowns and Established Downtowns. These tiers are defined by stage of development of the district in relation to its city and region, and based on average growth in employment, residential density, population growth, job density and assessed value per square mile. Read the full report to learn more.

IDA has worked with 24 urban place management organizations from all across the U.S. on the study to demonstrate downtown’s unique value to the city and region through the lens of economy, inclusion, vibrancy, identity, and resilience. We are seeking the next group of 12 downtown organizations to participate in our 2019 cohort and collectively advance our industry’s understanding of the value of downtowns. Downtown organizations receive a custom analysis of their district, and in the past, this study has better equipped downtowns to communicate their value to the public and stakeholders, advocate for investments, and increase support for their area. Interested in being a part of the 2019 cohort? Email Cathy Lin, Director of Research, to learn more.

These 24 organizations are part of IDA’s research to quantify the value of downtown.

  • Ann Arbor, Michigan (Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority)
  • Atlanta, Georgia (Central Atlanta Progress, Inc.)
  • Austin, Texas (Downtown Austin Alliance)
  • Baltimore, Maryland (Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, Inc.)
  • Charlotte, North Carolina (Charlotte Center City Partners)
  • Dallas, Texas (Downtown Dallas, Inc)
  • Durham, North Carolina (Downtown Durham, Inc)
  • El Paso, Texas (El Paso Downtown Management District)
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan (Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc.)
  • Greensboro, North Carolina (Downtown Greensboro Inc.)
  • Indianapolis, Indiana (Downtown Indy, Inc.)
  • Lancaster, California (BLVD Association)
  • Miami, Florida (Downtown Development Authority)
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota (MPLS Downtown Council and MPLS Downtown Improvement District)
  • Norfolk, Virginia (Downtown Norfolk Council)
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership)
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership)
  • Sacramento, California (Downtown Sacramento Partnership)
  • San Antonio, Texas (Centro San Antonio)
  • San Francisco, California (Union Square BID)
  • Santa Monica, California (Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.)
  • Seattle, Washington (Downtown Seattle Association)
  • Tucson, Arizona (Downtown Tucson Partnership)
  • Wichita, Kansas (Wichita Downtown Development Corporation)

  • Research Value of U.S.
Downtowns and Center Cities principles

    The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities Second Edition report was released on January 31, 2019, and is available as a free download from the IDA webstore. The methodology and data standard will serve as a tool IDA continues to offer to members. The information from the downtown cohorts will inform the development of a new “IDA Vitality Index.” This novel tool will standardize the value of downtown as a place for a range of stakeholders; create a useful set of tools for replicable, data-driven measurement; and define a baseline for assessment of progress and peer comparison. Read the Press Release.


    Project Advisors

    Communities are fundamental. Whether around the corner or across the globe, they provide a foundation, a sense of place and of belonging. That's why at Stantec, we always design with community in mind. We care about the communities we serve—because they're our communities too. We're designers, engineers, scientists, and project managers, innovating together at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships. Balancing these priorities results in projects that advance the quality of life in communities across the globe. Stantec’s Urban Places team is an interdisciplinary hub within the firm bringing together leaders in planning and urban design, smart mobility, resilience, development, mixed-use architecture, smart cities, and brownfield redevelopment. We work in downtowns across North America—in cities and suburbs alike—to unlock the extraordinary urban promise of enhanced livability, equity, and resilience.

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    Interested in being involved in a future study? Contact Cathy Lin, Director of Research at to learn more about The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities project.