Baton Rouge Master Planning Process Gets Results

“Reconnecting to the River” and “Plan Baton Rouge” Lead to Significant Improvements Downtown

IMG_7948TMG Consulting’s Bonnie Garrigan and Rachael Bauer were in downtown Baton Rouge last week assisting the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport administer its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program. Savvy planning efforts guided by the “Baton Rouge Riverfront Master Plan: Reconnecting to the River” have led to enormous progress in the city’s downtown.

In 2009 the City-Parish of Baton Rouge, through its Downtown Development District, debuted a new downtown riverfront master plan — a component of Baton Rouge’s comprehensive master plan, “Plan Baton Rouge.” This downtown revitalization implements the comprehensive master plan’s critical themes of establishing a greener, more active downtown, with better access to the river and neighborhoods. The redesigned downtown added over one acre of green space to the downtown area, fulfilling a key component of the City’s master plan recommendations. The redesign particularly focused on pedestrian access and connectivity to cultural and municipal amenities and institutions. This unified downtown plan highlights the important surrounding cultural and civic buildings, including:

  • City Hall
  • River Center Library
  • The Old State Capitol
  • Shaw Center for the Arts
  • Louisiana Art and Science Museum
  • River Center Campus
  • 19th Judicial District Courthouse
  • River Center Theatre for the Performing Arts
  • Two existing downtown hotels

Read the full post »

TMG Tips for a Safe and Smooth Carnival

Mardi-Gras

Visitors and residents alike have already begun flooding the streets of New Orleans for this year’s Carnival season. While we continue to enjoy this annual citywide celebration, this Mardi Gras season presents a unique set of challenges for the city officials who work to plan and protect the events.  Aside from the usual Mardi Gras concerns surrounding transportation and public safety, the 2015 season presents a new issue: ongoing construction along some of the major parade routes.

Intensive drainage projects are currently underway Uptown, which means that major tracts of prime parade-watching neutral ground real estate will be closed off on Napoleon Avenue.  Parade-goers who are accustomed to these locations need to take the neutral ground closures into account and plan on watching the parades at an alternate location. When traveling to and from the parades, note that Louisiana Avenue traffic has been constricted to one lane in each direction from St. Charles Avenue to Claiborne Avenue.

Transportation and parking are always more difficult during Carnival season, and this year public officials are encouraging residents to take public transportation whenever possible. New tools have been made available by the RTA to help individuals plan their routes and schedules with Mardi Gras events taken into account. An updated trip planner and mobile app can be found at www.norta.com.

Please note that buses and streetcars stop running two hours before parades begin and recommence after their routes have been cleared. Additionally, the city is offering an expanded schedule for the Algiers-Canal Street ferry. The increased service began Friday, February 6th and will run through Tuesday, February 17th. An additional ferry will be added to the schedule on February 14th and will remain in service until February17th.

The expanded ferry service is detailed below:

Mardi Gras blog with RTM edits_Page_1

While celebrating and moving around the city this Mardi Gras season, be sure to use the tools available to help plan for adjustments to your public transportation options.

Happy Mardi Gras from TMG!

Submitted by:

Matthew Loftis, Intern, Master of Urban & Regional Planning candidate

The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.

TMG Partnership Wins Competitive Contract from Zachary Taylor Parkway Commission

TMG Consulting is proud to announce that the firm has been hired by the Zachary Taylor Parkway (ZTP) Commission to assist in updating the Commission’s Master Plan! TMG will serve as a sub-consultant to N-Y Associates, the prime firm on the contract. Urban Systems will also serve as a sub-consultant. The contract was awarded via a competitive public RFP (Request for Proposals) process, with the TMG team selected from over a half-dozen respondents!

ZTP 2As part of a comprehensive Master Plan Update for the Parkway, TMG’s primary responsibilities include gathering data on economic shifts, creating an economic development plan, developing a marketing and communications strategy, and conducting stakeholder and public outreach. N-Y Associates will create a Parkway “vision document,” gather data on demographic and policy shifts, and develop a Disaster Preparedness Plan, while also coordinating the drafting of the final report. Urban Systems will supply traffic and safety analysis to create a Corridor Management Plan. TMG is thrilled to serve the ZTP Commission with such capable partners.

The Zachary Taylor Parkway is a scenic highway that stretches from Alexandria, Louisiana to Poplarville, Mississippi, traversing eight Louisiana Parishes and one Mississippi County. Traveling through it, motorists encounter a diverse mix of small towns, scenic countryside, homegrown businesses, thriving agricultural areas, historic tourist attractions, and magnificent plantations. The team is confident that the Master Plan Update will provide a roadmap for the renewal and growth of this historic corridor.

Congratulations to the entire team, and stay tuned for updates on this exciting project!

The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use

More on TMG’s Award-Winning Market Assessment for Shreveport Common Cultural District

For the announcement of TMG’s 2015 State Planning Award of Excellence for a Process for the Shreveport Common Market Assessment, click here.

A devastating fire engulfed the Shreveport Regional Arts Council’s (SRAC) headquarters on August 25, 2009, and propelled the vision for a new arts and cultural district in downtown Shreveport. Few would have thought the senseless act of arson would have spurred the revitalization of a once-great neighborhood. A historic, vacant downtown fire station was identified to serve as SRAC’s new headquarters for the artist community, newly named “Central ARTSTATION.”

SC 1After this renovation was completed, the next challenge was to revitalize the surrounding underused nine block area. The Shreveport Common Vision Plan was formed from a nine-month grass-roots, community-involved effort.

Led by SRAC and a team of architects and planners, an advisory board was assembled to include local area leaders, (downtown business partners, the city, and parish) neighbors, developers, artists, bankers and those in the investment community. Door-to-door listening sessions were held with neighbors and property owners; the artist community was surveyed; and numerous community-wide events were held where input was obtained from artists, area residents, and those living across the greater Shreveport area. Read the full post »

TMG Wins State Planning Award!

Shreeveport-Common-Team

TMG’s Eric Melancon (far left) and Suzanne Leckert (far right) accept the 2015 Process award with the team.

On January 22, 2015, TMG Consulting and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) of Shreveport, Louisiana were awarded the American Planning Association – Louisiana Chapter 2015 State Planning Award of Excellence for a Process. The award was given for TMG’s market assessment of the Shreveport Common Arts and Cultural District.

The study was spearheaded and funded by the DDA and the Downtown Shreveport Development Corporation (DSDC). TMG Consulting analyzed the market potential for retail, commercial, and residential development (both market rate and artist housing).  Projections of the potential utilization, necessary units and square footage, occupancy rates, and rental revenues for the retail/commercial and residential developments were detailed in the study document. The team’s report has been instrumental in discussions with potential developers, investors, and the banking community about opportunities in Shreveport Common.

SC-Logo-Cropped

“It was remarkable to see all the data put into an analysis that gave easily understandable meaning to the opportunities available in Shreveport Common. We’re glad to have had the partnership of TMG Consulting in this project,” says Liz Swaine, Executive Director of the DDA/DSDC.

This award-winning project was led by Suzanne Leckert, Director of Feasibility & Land Use, with significant contributions from TMG’s Eric Melancon, Nilsa Duran, Tiffany Pitre, and Rachael Bauer.  At the 2015 Louisiana APA Conference held in Baton Rouge, Suzanne and Eric presented the study to a packed house of planners, government officials, and local leaders.

Read an Overview and Executive Summary of the award-winning market assessment here. For TMG’s full list of client offerings, visit our Products page. Congratulations to our partners and the entire TMG team!

The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.

Is the Decline in Oil Prices Really a Threat to the Hybrid Car Industry?

Coinciding with the dramatic decrease in oil prices in the later part of 2014, various media reports have revisited the consumer’s economic benefit from owning a hybrid automobile versus a fuel dependent one.

save-moneyA recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek compared the price of driving three cars that are comparable in size—a hybrid car (Toyota Prius), a gasoline-powered car (Chevy Cruze), and an electric car (Nissan Leaf). The comparison shows that over time (a period of 30 years) the total expense to operate and drive the hybrid and gasoline powered vehicles were basically the same. According to the article, the electric car was far more cost efficient to own and operate than either the hybrid or gasoline automobiles.

The article admits its own shortcomings in comparing the cost-savings of these three vehicles. These include assuming oil prices remain stable and as low as they currently are over a thirty-year period, and the failure to include the initial cost of a residential charging station an electric vehicle owner may incur. But a primary issue with this article is its reluctance to address the non-monetary value consumers place on reducing their environmental impact by purchasing electric cars.

The recent Detroit auto show, as reported in a Reuters article, gave the industry a platform to discuss the implications of falling gas prices on consumer vehicle preferences. Low gas prices have driven increases in demand for less fuel-efficient vehicles such as heavy trucks, SUVs, and luxury cars of the high-performance variant. Rather than rejoicing a return of interest to gas-hungry cars, the industry is focused on developing and selling electric and hybrid cars. This is due to the U.S.’s requirement that all vehicles sold in 2025 average 54.5 miles per gallon or greater (potentially subject to adjustment based on real-time shifts in the data models). The future policy regulations require automakers to increase research and development spending on vehicles with increased fuel efficiency, while the current marketplace suggests that a waning in consumer interest in fuel-inefficient vehicles is unlikely to occur anytime soon.

obama-cafe-standards-0711-deBoth consumers and manufacturers should continue to assess the non-monetary benefits that electric and fuel-efficient cars bring. Beyond oil-independence and a reduced impact on the environment, the prevalence of these vehicles in the marketplace may induce other benefits such as an increasingly more accessible price for consumers.

Submitted by:

Nicholas Farrae
Senior Analyst, Economics and Gaming

 

The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.

Construction Begins on New Orleans Rampart Streetcar Expansion

On the heels of the St. Charles streetcar line being named a national historic landmark, the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) here in New Orleans has begun construction on a new Rampart streetcar line. The line will travel in shared lanes (similar to the Carrollton line) from Canal Street to Elysian Fields along Rampart Street and St. Claude Avenue. Tracks will be laid in the leftmost lane in each direction. TMG is excited to see this portion of the streetcar expansion come to fruition.

Rampart-Expansion-Map

Just as with the increased economic development after the announcement of the Loyola Streetcar Line, the Rampart/St. Claude line could invigorate investment along the corridor even before the line’s completion in 2017. The corridor currently hosts an eclectic commercial offering of bars, galleries, music venues, and food co-ops.  Advocacy and buy-in from the area’s residents was a major factor in implementing the RTA’s vision, and the entire city stands to benefit.

The Rampart/St. Claude streetcar corridor is bounded by 7 neighborhoods: the Central Business District, the French Quarter, Iberville, Treme, Marigny, and the 7th and 8th Wards. During the planning phase, the RTA actively engaged each of these neighborhoods as well as more than a dozen neighborhood and community organizations representing the surrounding area.

TMG is proud to have played a part in the planning, oversight, and execution of this major capital program.

The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.

Lower Airfares Coming in 2015

Airlines Expect Record Profitability on Falling Oil Prices

Drivers across the country have seen noticeably lower prices at the pump lately, with the price of crude oil falling to five-year lows and closing in on $60/barrel.

Now, air travelers may be seeing lower prices in the New Year as well.

jet fuel coffeeBecause of oil price drops attributed to a glut in US supply from shale, and corresponding reductions in the cost of jet fuel, the International Air Transport Association announced today a revised airline industry 2014 profit estimate of $19.9 billion (up from $18.0 billion just this past June). Profits are expected to balloon to a record $25.0 billion in 2015.

The industry expects to pass along a portion of the savings to consumers, with passenger fares projected to fall 5.1% and cargo rates coming in 5.8% lower, after adjusting for inflation.

Just a 5% price cut, though? On record profits?

The fact remains that the airline industry is more competitive than ever and is dealing with cost pressures that will eat into any savings on jet fuel. Next year, the industry will have to take in $783 billion in revenues to see their $25 billion in profits, for a margin of 3.2 percent.

IATA Chief Executive Tony Tyler made a comparison to a familiar brand – Starbucks, which has a profit margin of 14 percent. “[This company] will retain as much from selling seven cups of coffee as an airline will make selling an average ticket,” Tyler noted.

Just don’t mix flying with drinking seven cups of coffee.

Contributed by:

Ryan McNeely, MPA

Associate

Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport On Track to Exceed DBE Goals

Airport Reports Significant Increase in DBE Commitments

DBETMG Consulting assists the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BRMA) in drafting and administering its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and Small Business Enterprise (SBE) programs.  The Airport’s DBE Program is mandated by the federal government under FAA grant assurances and aims to ensure that government grant funds are distributed equitably.

TMG is proud to report that projects awarded in FFY 2014 have a combined commitment of 17.11% to DBE firms.  A total of six (6) DBE subcontracts were awarded on four (4) projects during FFY 2014, for a value of $973,865 to DBE firms. During FFY 2013, BRMA committed 8.7% to DBE firms. BRMA’s overall DBE goal for FFYs 2013-2015 is 7.1%, so BRMA is on track to greatly exceed their original target.

logoBtr02TMG Consulting provides assistance to BRMA by setting DBE project goals, conducting compliance reviews of bids, monitoring ongoing DBE participation on projects, assisting interested Prime Contractors in finding qualified DBE’s and providing assistance to DBE’s interested in contracting at BRMA. TMG looks forward to working with these contractors to ensure maximum participation and realization of project benchmarks.

For more information on TMG’s DBE program management services, please visit our products page here.

If you have any questions, please call:

(504) 569-9239

Rachael Bauer ext. 24 or Bonnie Garrigan ext. 29

Contributed by:

Rachael C. Bauer, MURP
Associate, TMG Consulting

An Economic Strategy for Casinos in the Land of Pachinko

As we begin the third week of the special autumn parliamentary session in Japan, the focus remains on whether or not substantial progress will be made on casino legalization. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sees passing the casino bill as a crucial component in his “Abenomics” package of aggressive economic and fiscal policies and reforms. He views Japanese casinos as an opportunity to increase tax revenue and stimulate the flagging economy, and he hopes that foreign investment from major gaming operators and integrated resort (IR) developers will help to pull Japan out of two decades of deflation and weak growth. The timing of the current parliamentary session becomes all the more critical, given that the Japanese GDP took a 7.1% plunge during the first quarter of the 2014 fiscal year. When factoring in recent tax increases and rising energy costs, Japanese workers are now effectively earning less than they were when Abe took office in 2012.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Gambling Which Isn’t Gambling: Pachinko

Although gambling is technically illegal in Japan (except for some government-administered racing sports and lotteries) there is already a thriving gambling pastime which has been an integral part of the Japanese lifestyle since the first part of the 20th century, operating in the gray area of the pachinko industry. This pinball-like slot game (which originally utilized ball bearings from dismantled munitions factories after World War II) is regarded as an exception to the criminal code’s gambling prohibition. When players accumulate enough little silver balls, they can redeem them for token prizes such as pen sets, cigarettes, or perfume, then take certain special prizes to off-site shops where they are exchanged for cash.

Although the pachinko business has been on the decline since its peak in the 1990s due to a younger generation eschewing what they see as the dingy, smoky pastime of their parents’ generation, estimates of gross gaming revenue (GGR) for pachinko in 2013 are still thought to be a staggering $30 billion or higher. In order to win over Japanese youth and the untapped female market, and in preparation for competition from casinos, the pachinko business is now trying to rebrand and reinvent itself with stylish, smoke-free lounges, cafes, shopping malls, and even daycare centers for the children of parents with a little extra cash on their hands.

A Pachinko Parlor in Tokyo's Akihabara District

A Pachinko Parlor in Tokyo’s Akihabara District

A telling anecdote which illustrates the fuzziness of pachinko’s classification by Japanese society recounts a group of pro-casino legislators who requested data on annual pachinko winnings from the National Police Agency, which administers the off-site exchange shops. The mind-boggling response provided was that pachinko generates no winnings, as pachinko is not gambling. The industry’s 12,000 parlors are operated entirely by the private sector, and it is not taxed, although that would likely change if taxable casinos were legalized.

How Will Social Implications Affect Casino Legislation?

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 4.8% of Japan’s adult population, and 8.7% of men over the age of 20 are pathological gamblers who are addicted to gambling. This stands in stark contrast to other developed nations where the average statistic for compulsive gamblers is closer to 1%. As a result, the Ministry supports a total ban on casino use by Japanese citizens, which is the model used at gambling facilities in Monaco. Other groups are exploring requiring special entrance fees for Japanese casino customers, which is the approach used for locals at casinos in Singapore. Either way, restricting casino access for the Japanese would cut into what the government sees as a solution to the nation’s economic woes, especially when some have projected that 80% of casino patrons will be Japanese nationals.

Gambling by Japanese Nationals to be Allowed

Recent media reports on the casino bill being drafted by a multiparty group of Japanese parliament members had stated that a clause was being introduced only allowing foreign nationals to gamble in Japan. Since many believe that the Japanese customer base is crucial to the profitability of Japanese IRs, this would have been seen as a setback discouraging investment by foreign developers. Conflicting reports have now emerged, citing an unidentified “parliamentary source”, stating that the draft law will not ban Japanese locals from casino gambling.

We are closely following all the casino-related developments as they occur in Tokyo, where parliament is in session through November 30th. Check back with TMG Insights to stay current on the latest news from Japan.

Contributed by:

Anthony Mumphrey III
Principal, TMG Consulting
anthony@tmgconsulting.net
(504) 569-9239, Ex.22

—–

Disclaimer
The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.