Housing and Community Development
Studies for Informed Economic Development

Housing represents the dominant land use in most U.S. municipalities and the largest personal investment for most households.  Additionally, the quality and subsequent value of the community housing stock has a profound effect on public finances dependent on real estate tax revenues.  Housing studies may be conducted on a comprehensive or targeted basis depending on need.  As a result, the studies may include a variety of elements such as: a comprehensive housing/property data base, a projection of future housing need, an analysis of housing composition, an analysis of geographic patterns, an analysis of over and under supply by types and values, residential neighborhood analysis, and a comparison to other communities deemed similar in nature.  For example, the development of a comprehensive housing data base provides a basis for examining geographic variations in valuation and exterior condition by type, and for determining patterns in sales and foreclosures.  Further, housing profiles can be developed for neighborhoods and linked to other relevant data to determine relative levels of “neighborhood stress”.

The NIU Center for Governmental Studies recently embarked on such a study in Monmouth, IL to research the housing market in Monmouth, as well as the demand for upscale and market-rate housing.

They estimate the upscale housing will sell in the $200,000 range with rent around $1,500 a month, while market rate housing will sell at around $90,000 with an estimated $750 to $800 figure for monthly rentals.

Interim City Administrator, Lew Steinbrecher says one of the aims of establishing demand for this type of housing would be to present potential developers with an incentive to develop in Monmouth. He believes the upper floors of downtown buildings could be transformed into market rate housing for young professionals, who are not yet wealthy enough to afford upscale developments, while new upscale apartments and houses could be potential destinations for older residents who can afford them.

“The upscale (housing) will probably be in vacant land on the perimeter of the city,” Steinbrecher said. “There are a number of sites available. This study is not necessarily site specific, but the city has identified lots on the north and west side of town.”[1]

The study is also evaluating Monmouth employees who do not live in the city to access the reason for this in an effort to develop strategies for capturing this market. Steinbrecher suspects that the reason might very well be that there are not enough housing options to accommodate a lot of those workers.

The City of DeKalb is currently redeveloping a series of downtown buildings to to make way for commercial space and up to 55 luxury apartments.

 “I’m pleased to see this investment coming forward,” DeKalb Mayor John Rey said. “It will help diversify and balance the tax base in the downtown sector, which will lessen the tax burden on property owners throughout the community.”[2]

 “The Otto’s building has been vacant and unoccupied for a while and that certainly does nothing to help nearby businesses,” Community Development Director Jo Ellen Charlton said. “We have been waiting for someone to make that first move of an investment, and hopefully this will be someone with the confidence of moving forward with an investment which will spawn other opportunities in the area.”[3]

The plans would require the demolition of the affected buildings to erect a new building, which will consist of a first-floor for commercial use and up to 55 one-bedroom luxury apartments on the upper floors.

If you would like more information on Housing Studies or other community development options, please contact Mim Evans (with credentials), mevans@niu.edu.  

[1]   http://www.reviewatlas.com/news/20170622/study-will-look-at-housing-needs

[2]   http://www.daily-chronicle.com/2017/01/30/developer-plans-luxury-apartments-for-downtown-dekalb/a3tmb4h/

[3]   IBID