In 2005, the City of Baltimore and The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) joined forces to create the 2005 Baltimore City Market Value Analysis (MVA). The MVA serves as a critical element to the 2006 City of Baltimore Comprehensive Master Plan, the first to be developed by Baltimore in three decades, and to help to guide the targeted allocation of public resources. The MVA is an accurate and useful diagnostic of localized market conditions. It gives experts both inside and out of government information to make strategic decisions targeting interventions in weak markets and supporting sustainable growth in stronger market segments. Since then, TRF has performed updates to the MVA in 2008 and 2011, in addition to completing a Commercial Market Value Analysis (CMVA) in 2008.
The City of Baltimore’s Department of Planning was impressed by the MVA TRF had created for Mayor Street’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative in Philadelphia. Based on a similar idea, the City created a neighborhood typology of its own in 2002, employing a smaller set of variables, analyzed at a larger geographic level than TRF’s MVA. That version used the city’s neighborhoods as boundaries rather than using block groups. While this allowed comparisons with a wide range of data compiled at the neighborhood level, housing market details were often obscured. For example, a neighborhood that could often have three or more distinct types of market activity within it would show only one typology instead of its range, limiting the ways to use the analysis for investment decisions within a neighborhood.
Working alongside Baltimore' s Planning and Housing Departments, TRF provided leadership with the analysis, while the City engaged civically-involved Baltimoreans and neighborhood organizations along the way to ensure the accuracy of the approach. The symbiotic process between the City and TRF resulted in an analytical tool that quickly emerged as a valuable resource for both.
For the City, the MVA is playing the role of a powerful and proven guide to both daily operations and long-term planning. The MVA guides the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) which funds physical improvement projects. City Departments such as Public Works and Health, applying for CIP funding, use the MVA as a market lens as they develop their project plans. The MVA also allows project planners to understand how a neighborhood’s market can affect their plan and consequently what potential impact the project itself would have on its surrounding market.
“It was a harmonious collaboration with significant results,” says Peter Conrad, City Planner with the City of