...an oft-cited study by Render Vanderslice claims that homes with fiber connectivity sell for approximately $4000 to $6000 more than comparable homes with copper connections.Sounds awfully good doesn't it? Add 5000 dollars to the value of each home in Lafayette. And it's good research--for new subdivisions; which is where this sort of research has had to be done. Fancy new subdivisions are the only places that have had FTTH until recently. And its awfully easy to compare two of the cookie cutter subdivision houses we're seeing all to much of these days. (This sort of research follows similar research done on buried utilities, which is why nicer subdivisions, especially those where the developer is also the builder, are eating the expense of buried utilities.) So the research wasn't done in situations that are very similar to bringing FTTH to a large existing stock of homes.
Less expensive urban homes in a city like Lafayette where everyone will have access are not likely to see such a large or clearly documentable bump. After all, the whole point of a public, municipal utility is prevent real broadband from turning into a rare, expensive privilege of the few. But even so you can expect it to enhance the value of Lafayette real estate.
Even a modest bump value multiplied across the entire city is a very large increase in real wealth. Wikipedia claims there are 46,865 housing units in Lafayette. At the unrealistic 5000 dollars home bump suggested by Render Vanderslice the increase in home value would be 234,325,000, in the neighborhood of twice what the fiber project would cost. But even if housing stock in Lafayette proper only had jump which is 10% of that established number (which seems low to me, given the research) the value of housing in Lafayette would increase by 2,343,250 dollars. Even a two million plus increase in local wealth is real money.
The builders association, the realtors association and not a few individual realty companies endorsed fiber during the referendum fight. These are the folks who'd have cause to keep track of the research on things like the added value of buried utilities and fiber-optic broadband. Seems like they might have thought this through more thoroughly than the rest of us. The increase in the attractiveness of city property would also help the city's aging housing stock compete against newer homes built outside the city, helping avert some of the common center-city flight that has plauged American cities and would help maintain a healty, "smart growth" core for the parish.
Add property values to your list of potential positive outcomes of Lafayette's fiber build.
Post Scriptum: We occasionally hear from people who don't particularly value democratic decision making and dismiss public works projects as some sort of circus for the masses. Typically they claim that only "voting with dollars" is really moral. Leaving aside the huge problems with this excuse for morality, such folks should be moved by the evidence that FTTH increases property values even if they do not value quality of life, self-determination, or equity. Somehow I don't expect to hear any concessions. My guess is that even in the bed-rock domain of property value ideology will matter more than evidence.