RCF has performed real estate and urban economics studies including regional and local economic forecasting, demographic analysis, economic impact studies, zoning studies, local tax policy analysis, labor economics studies, and analyses of real estate markets.  RCF staff have testified in important court cases involving such topics as developer disputes, discrimination, and siting of public facilities.  RCF has studied the effects of regulations, including taxation policy, on federal, state, and local government agencies, and businesses. RCF is experienced in the analysis of demographic trends and the evaluation of regional economic changes.  This work has involved the extensive use of input-output and econometric techniques.

Real Estate and Urban Economics Experience

RCF Study on Property Values and Tax Rates Near Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage

Energy Policy, December 2018

RCF announces the upcoming publication of “Property Values and Tax Rates Near Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage” in the December 2018 issue of Energy Policy.  The study, conducted by RCF President George Tolley and RCF Associate Kirstin Munro , Assistant Professor of Economics and Finance at St. John’s University, considers the impact on property values of proximity to spent fuel at the site of a former nuclear power plant, as well as what happens to local property values following the shutdown of a nuclear power plant.

The Economic Impact of Residential Property Sales in Illinois

Illinois Association of Realtors, 2007 and 2011
In 2007, RCF conducted an analysis of the economic impacts of buying and selling residential property on the overall Illinois economy. In addition, impacts were calculated for 11 individual metropolitan statistical areas throughout the state. RCF repeated the study  in 2011 to examine the effects of the Great Recession.

Economic Effects of Closing Chicago & O’Brien Locks

Chaddick Institute of Metropolitan Studies, DePaul University, 2010
RCF assisted the Chaddick Institute of Metropolitan Studies at DePaul University in a study for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce assessing the economic impact of closing the connections between the Chicago Waterways and Lake Michigan in response to threats from a potential Asian carp invasion. RCF conducted an assessment of the economic losses associated with changes in recreational opportunities from tour boat operations and river use associated with lock operation and the associated losses in property values from reductions in river water quality.

Litigation Support in Fair Housing Case

Town of Flower Mound, Texas, 2010
In a Federal court case defending the Town of Flower Mound against a charge that its zoning ordinances are discriminatory, RCF provided testimony that jurisdictional differences in affordable rental housing are the result of differences in market demand.

Development Strategies Reports for the Chicago Metropolitan Area

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), 2009
To support the development of the CMAP’S GO To 2040 Plan, RCF developed five reports with recommendations for economic development strategies. The five reports included the following:

  • What Makes Regions Grow – presents the factors known to contribute to economic growth and development of a major metropolitan area, and outlines the roles that state and local government can play in support of economic growth.
  • Innovation Strategy Report – summarizes the innovation related activities taking place in the metropolitan economy, and provides recommendations for improvements.
  • Green Economic Development – presents opportunities for green development in the region, and includes goals, objectives and strategies to serve as a framework for a regional green economic development plan.
  • Infrastructure to Support Economic Development – provides economic development perspectives and recommendations for infrastructure systems in the CMAP region including: transportation, electricity and natural gas, telecommunications, waste disposal and recycling, water management, public buildings, and convention facilities.
  • Export Promotion/Import Replacement Strategies – examines the possibilities for export promotion and import substitution for the metropolitan economy. Major export industries are identified, and suggestions for export promotion are provided. Targets of opportunity for the replacement of imports used by local export firms in their production processes are also identified.

Effects of Proposed Illinois Gross Receipts Tax

Illinois Association of Realtors, 2007
RCF analyzed proposed legislation which would have fundamentally changed the business tax structure in Illinois. RCF estimated the magnitude of the cascade effect of a gross receipts tax on the price of a house in Illinois. Employment impacts on the construction industry also were analyzed. RCF presented results in testimony before a special full session of the Illinois House of Representatives.

Litigation Support in a Discrimination Case in Kyle, Texas

City of Kyle, Texas, 2007
In a case defending the City of Kyle’s new zoning ordinances against charges of racial discrimination, RCF corrected impact calculations conducted by expert witnesses for the plaintiff and showed that any differential impact on housing affordability by ethnic group was minimal.

Retail Chain Stores and Economic Development in Chicago

Illinois Retail Merchant Association (IRMA), 2004
RCF testified before the Chicago City Council on the relation between retail chain stores and economic development in various Chicago neighborhoods. The testimony documented the absence of large retail stores in low income communities, and the corresponding lack of retail employment opportunities for residents of those communities. The experience of Chicago’s low income communities was contrasted with other areas of the city where existing retail chains were found to be economic magnets, spurring increases in employment and business activity.

Local Economic Forecasting for Business Planning

Bank of America, 2003
As part of one Chicago bank’s acquisition program, RCF was asked to examine the demographic and economic trends for communities in the southern suburbs of the Chicago metropolitan area. Historical trends were identified using Census Bureau data at the census tract level. Community characteristics examined included population, employment, income, housing and racial composition. Factors affecting trends in these characteristics were identified, including local influences such as geography, transportation systems and major employers as well as external influences such as population and economic growth in the larger metropolitan area, income displacement, and racial displacement. RCF also prepared predictions of demographic trends for each community in the area.

Bankrupt Condominium Development

Confidential Client, 2003
RCF assisted one of the nation’s three largest financial institutions defend itself in the penalty phase of an $80 million lawsuit regarding responsibility for the bankruptcy of a large, oceanfront condominium in Atlantic City, New Jersey. RCF’s analysis and testimony resulted in an out-of-court settlement for a small fraction of the original claim.

Impact of Zoning Regulations on Labor Supply and Metropolitan Growth

Mid‐North Financial Services, Inc., 2000
Down-zoning regulations in the City of Chicago have restricted residential densities below what would have been achieved by the market. RCF showed the impact of these regulations on prices and the supply of moderately priced housing affordable by entry-level workers, the subsequent job loss for the city, and the multiplier losses of income for the city. These regulations were subsequently struck down.

Race and the Cost of Housing

Confidential Client, 2000
RCF economists offered testimony in deposition before a U.S. District Court on the effects of race on housing prices and mortgage interest rates.

Tax Increment Financing

City of Chicago, 1998
RCF has worked extensively in the area of tax increment financing (TIF), performing economic impact studies, and forecasting likely effects of TIF-designated zones in several areas of the city. Most recently, RCF economists assisted the City of Chicago in determining which areas in Chicago would most benefit in the short-term and long-term from application of TIF zone designation.
RCF economists recommended methods of estimating the revenue effects of using tax increment financing and applied the proposed methods in evaluating the technique for financing the North Loop Redevelopment Program in Chicago. RCF has analyzed the important complexities of areas with TIF designation: whether its application will cause temporary vs. permanent employment increases, and if business created in TIF-designated areas will result in overall additions to the urban economy, or simply shift economic activity from some other part of the city.

Urban Taxation Policy

Fitzpatrick, Cooper and Clark, 1998
For the City of Yonkers, New York, RCF analyzed proposed tax initiatives and examined the tax effects upon employment, firm location decisions, and public service provisions. RCF also provided an analysis of finance projections for the Yonkers public schools. RCF economists provided expert testimony based on the analyses.

Regional Housing Supply

United States Navy, 1996
RCF provided an analysis on the effects upon regional housing markets of discontinuing the provision of on-base housing. The study analyzed regional employment and residential patterns, housing supply and demand elasticities, and the effects upon new housing construction.

Regional Employment Effects

City of Chicago, 1996
RCF analyzed the employment effects of a proposed minimum wage ordinance for the city of Chicago. RCF economists analyzed the public sector labor markets for the city and suburb municipal governments. RCF also examined the effects of changes in government employment patterns on the non-government labor market.

Zoning and Local Economic Development

Heartland Partners, 1990
RCF developed estimates of the economic impacts of alternative zoning proposals for Goose Island on Chicago’s near northwest side. To forecast tax revenue consequences, RCF analyzed income consequences of industrial retention versus mixed use residential and retail development. The study showed that mixed use zoning was preferable, from the point of view of both employment and tax revenues. RCF presented the results before the Chicago Plan Commission.

Housing and Urban Policy

George S. Tolley, 1990
RCF economists presented testimony before the Presidential Commission on Affordable Housing. A fundamental analysis of the effects of taxation and inflation on home ownership was undertaken for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and support was provided for a re-examination of the relation between the location of jobs and housing.