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

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 downtowns are part of IDA’s new research offering 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 report was released on January 25, 2018, and is available as a free download from the IDA webstore. The new methodology and data standard will serve as a tool IDA continues to offer to members. The information from the 2017 and future 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

    Stantec’s Urban Places is an interdisciplinary hub bringing together leaders in planning and urban design, transportation including autonomous mobility, resilience, development, mixed-use architecture, smart cities, and brownfield redevelopment. They 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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    Consultants to the Project

    HR&A Advisors is an industry-leading public policy, real estate, and economic development consulting firm. For more than 40 years, we have provided strategic advisory and implementation services for some of the most complex public policy and development projects across North America and abroad. With offices in New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Raleigh, and Washington, D.C., we have guided hundreds of clients in transforming real estate and economic development concepts, and public infrastructure, first into actionable plans then into job-producing, community-strengthening assets. HR&A’s consultants include former government officials, developers, economists, planners and lawyers. We work with diverse private clients to create value from government assets, and we help public officials maximize benefits from the expertise and capacity of the private sector. We approach assignments from diverse perspectives, enabling critical analyses that result in projects that meet our clients’ economic and policy objectives.

    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.