The value of the TDR is quantifiable and could be granted in many forms: assigned to designated areas like the Route 1 traffic circle, the industrial park, allocated to affordable housing or sold to one or more developers. Ultimately, there are many possibilities, determined by the will of the people, and written into the city’s laws.
Consider that 160,000 square feet of quality construction costs about $350 per square foot. Depending on how this idea is implemented, the cost of build-out could be about $56 million. The residual value of the development rights owned by the NRA would be about 15 percent, or approximately $8 million.
Yes, Newburyport’s density would increase, but instead of new buildings on the central waterfront, the volume gets spread throughout the city, so the impact is nearly invisible. The result could be $700,000 in annual tax revenue.
The NRA’s potential purse is enough to keep the central waterfront open, build a world-class park and endow it forever. Reflecting on 50 years of NRA successes, there has never been an easy meeting or an easy decision. This is difficult stuff, but consider the scale of the dream. There is a way.