Sacramento Shines in Recent Study of U.S. Downtowns

Downtown Sacramento wields substantial influence in tax revenue, employment and retail activity

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. (Feb. 28, 2018) – From driving tax revenue and business activity to spurring smart development and innovative workplaces, downtown Sacramento has the potential to leverage investment for profound lasting benefits according to The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities study released by the International Downtown Association (IDA) this month.

“This study reinforces what we’ve known for a long time, downtown Sacramento’s impact reaches far beyond its physical footprint,” said Michael Ault, Executive Director of Downtown Sacramento Partnership. “Investing in a strong downtown is crucial for a successful city and region. Our downtown has become an economic and entertainment hub and, as a result, a very attractive place to do business, visit and live.”

Produced by IDA in partnership with Stantec’s Urban Places team and 13 place management associations, including Downtown Sacramento Partnership, The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities study explains the unique contributions, importance and benefits of downtown investment and demonstrates the pivotal role downtowns play in the long-term health of a region.

According to the study, downtown Sacramento is an economic and employment multiplier for the Sacramento region with assessed property values totaling nearly $1 billion per square mile. While only accounting for five percent of the city’s land mass, downtown Sacramento represents a share of the region’s residents, workforce and employers well above its geographic size. By comparison, downtown Sacramento provides a higher than average percent of the city’s property tax revenue, lower than average office vacancy rate and a larger than average share of the citywide employment.

“This report confirms what we’ve known since the Gold Rush; downtown Sacramento is the cultural crossroads for arts, restaurants, and jobs, as well as being our City and region’s economic heart,” said Vice Mayor Steve Hansen of the Sacramento City Council. “We must continue to nurture our opportunities and creative communities that fuel this success.”

Additionally, the study found that downtown Sacramento:

  • Generates $75 million in property and hotel tax revenue.
    • 46 percent of the city’s total property tax revenue.
    • 42 percent of the city’s total hotel tax revenues.
  • Boasts 39 percent of Sacramento’s employment population, 34 percent of the city’s office space and 18 percent of the city’s knowledge jobs.
  • Generates more than double the volume of retail sales per square mile than the city on average.
    • $176.5 million in retail sales per square mile compared to the city which generates $81.6 million per square mile.
    • 24 percent of the city’s food and beverage establishments are located in downtown.

Continued Ault, “The research in this study should empower the public and private sectors to work collaboratively at multiple levels to encourage investment and support the continued development of downtown.”

The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities is informed by experts and downtown leaders from around the country, encompassing over 100 key data points, 33 guiding benefits and five principles: economy, inclusion, vibrancy, identity and resilience. The project examined 13 U.S. downtowns and center cities and was modeled after the award-winning project, The Value of Investing in Canadian Downtowns (2013).

“This report, and all the great data that underlies it, helps to quantify what we’ve known for decades—that a vibrant downtown disproportionately supports the success of any great city. In terms of economic, social, and cultural vitality, downtowns punch orders of magnitude above their weight,” said Craig Lewis, Principal of Stantec’s Urban Places. “Our team is proud to have contributed to this piece of vital research to tell the full story of their importance to city and regional economic performance.”

Among key findings for the average downtown:

  • Downtown retail is still a significant presence. On average, downtowns generate nine times more retail sales than their citywide counterparts.
  • Downtowns continue to serve as major employment centers. They are also adapting to workplace trends, quickly becoming home to a majority of co-working spaces and a significant share of creative and knowledge jobs.
  • Residents aren’t just moving to cities – they are moving to downtowns. Downtown residential growth averaged 20 percent higher than the rest of their cities.
  • Downtowns are multi-modal hubs. Downtowns consistently had higher Walk Scores, Bike Scores and Transit Scores than their cities and had higher rates of non-single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) commuters.

The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities complete report is now available as a free download on The Downtown Sacramento Profile is available on


  1. Downtown Sacramento is defined as the area south of the American River, east of the Sacramento River, north of Broadway and west of 21st Street.



About Downtown Sacramento Partnership

Downtown Sacramento Partnership is a nonprofit, property-based improvement district (PBID) that serves as the collective voice for the 197 property owners and more than 400 businesses located in the heart of downtown Sacramento’s Central Business District. Driven by the mission to build value downtown, the organization champions those who work, live, visit and do business here. For more information, visit + and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

About International Downtown Association

The International Downtown Association is the premier organization for urban place professionals who are shaping and activating dynamic city center districts. Members are downtown champions who bring urban centers to life, bridging the gap between the public and private sectors. They represent an industry of more than 2,500 place management organizations, employing 100,000 people throughout North America and growing rapidly around the world. Founded in 1954, IDA is a resource center for ideas and innovative best practices in urban place management. For more information, visit

About Stantec

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. They work in downtowns across North America—in cities and suburbs alike—to unlock the extraordinary urban promise of enhanced livability, equity, and resilience. Learn more at