REPORT: Government Owns Too Much Land That Could Be Developed

Local, state and federal government sits on an enormous amount of land that the private sector could make better use of.At some point, these assets should be sold off and let markets turn better revenue and decrease governments costs in maintaining these properties.

about a quarter of the value of all real estate in U.S. cities—excluding parks, museums, and historic landmarks—is owned by various levels of the public sector. They estimate the value of all municipal assets, including office buildings, ports, roads, bridges, bus depots, parking, train stations, utilities, and undeveloped air rights “would be at least $25 trillion” if measured at market prices. Add in the enormous amount of land owned by the federal government, including the military, and the total figure could be far higher. Put a 3% yield on these public-sector assets, and the income would be enough to cover deferred infrastructure maintenance several times over.

There are no published data of the market value of U.S. public-sector assets. Instead, their value is recorded either at historical cost or at historical cost minus depreciation—even though decades, if not centuries, have passed since many of those assets were first acquired. 

The Chicago Public Schools claims the land it owns is worth $327 million. Average land values in the city of Chicago are about $663,000 per acre, implying the CPS owns only 493 acres. Yet the district owns more than 600 schools, each of which has a footprint of around 10 acres. That suggests the total value of their landholdings could be closer to $5 billion.

Read the rest of the report here via Barrons. The article also holds decent answers into how development could work while earning the governments holding these lands revenue.

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