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Thread: Neighborhood revitalization in problematic areas

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Neighborhood revitalization in problematic areas

    I am looking for information or ideas on municipal led neighborhood revitalization efforts. While the adoption of a historic district can help, some of these locations are not that old, however we have noticed an increase in code enforcement and crime in these neighborhoods.
    You get what you give.

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    Chicago has been running a fairly successful regentrification project in many of it's housing projects and used TIF financing in other area's and seen a huge increase in the cities land value and a decline in crime.

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Heh. Heh. Heh. "Regentrification." I like that word.

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    In Albuquerque, we have two ways of dealing with neighborhood level revitalization: Sector Plans and Metropolitan Redevelopment Areas.

    Sector Plans involve community-driven plans to direct future development and address social problems in a specific area. They are voted on and accepted by the City Council, obligating the City to invest in identified areas (implementing sidewalks, parks, community policing, stop signs or other traffic management toos, etc.). They may also involve specialized zoning classifications to tweak intended outcomes. Here, Sector Plans stand for 10 years before being updated. A "sector" could be a neighborhood, collection of neighborhoods, or even a corridor.

    An MRA is similar, but involves the City agreeing to partner with private developers to jumpstart development in a given area. This might involve condemning blighted, abandoned or polluted properties and selling them on the cheap. It might also involve providing various financial incentives to attract specific kinds of development. An MRA also allows for the establishment of things like Tax Increment Financing which cannot happen without this designation.

    I think the key is establishing a public process for identifying WHY the various problems are occurring. Proximity to job base? Low rate of home ownership? Could an increase in public space or pedestrian activity help? Is there a need for an increased police presence? etc. Every situation is different and the solutions should be directed through a partnership between the public and the municipality. IMHO...
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    Cyburbian Clore's avatar
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    Some good reading on the subject: Jane Jacobs The Death and Life of Great American Cities and Carter Wilke/Richard Moe's Changing Places.
    Loads of information in both of them- encouraging the right activities in trouble spots throughout 24 hour periods, getting people walking around, etc.
    Also, the National Trust's Main Street program is a great tool.

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    Cyburbian
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    I can't remember the name of it specificially, something like Neighborhood Under Fire or something like that, but it is a documentary on a neighborhood in St. Louis that had a serious crime problem. The documentary discusses what the residents and cities did to turn it around.

    A municipality, by itself, cannot turn a neighborhood around. It requires an active set of residents, volunteers, private investments, non profits, etc. to be successful. The types of things that municipalities can contribute are programs to help people buy their homes (ones where the buyer purchases the structure only and the land is owned by the city, non profit, etc. seem to work exceptionally well), to give kids a place to go after school so they can be active and stay out of trouble, improved educational opportunities, community oriented policing, improved infastructure, etc. In most neighborhoods that are in a severe state of decline, there are not opportunities for chaning things that we as planners are normally involved with unless the City acquires the land and tries to build something else. Urban renewal taught us how not to do it, but there are good examples out there of how to do it right, but I do not know of one that simply built new homes and called it good.

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    Cyburbian yesteryear's avatar
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    I did some work with this non-profit in San Francisco on neighborhood revitalization... check out what they are doing in what is arguably one of the worst areas in the city:
    http://www.urbansolutionssf.org/prog..._of_market.php
    there's also this article about them in the San Francisco Business times which might be a more interesting read:
    http://urbansolutionssf.org/what/SF%...%206_30_06.pdf

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I'd typically recommend a neighborhood plan in which economic development and housing should be prominent. The process should identify causes of decline, which are not always bad influences. By this, I mean it could be something like an aging population being unable to take care of their properties. It does not always have to be crime and gangs.
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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    I'd typically recommend a neighborhood plan in which economic development and housing should be prominent. The process should identify causes of decline, which are not always bad influences. By this, I mean it could be something like an aging population being unable to take care of their properties. It does not always have to be crime and gangs.
    It is interesting that you mention that. One of the Low/Mod neighborhoods that we have now is mostly elderly people. While they do have an active neighborhood association, some of the houses have remained out dated, the properties have not been kept up, and it has lowered the property values. This resulted some very low income persons moving in, and a few of them have questionable activities, and now has an active crime rate.
    You get what you give.

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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Community-outreach, well-regulated but very strict law enforcement, maybe followed by some small projects like doing up the loal prk/playground/library, etc.?
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    Inner-city neighborhood revitalization plans is nearly all I do. One example of work I've been directly involved in is the New Communities Program here in Chicago. We worked in many of the city's most distressed neighborhoods and developed short-term strategic plans with community residents and stakeholders. The individual plans are sometimes quite general, but the emphasis on public participation has had the effect of organizing some communities and bringing lots of interest from other sources (i.e., city government, non-profits, developers, etc.)

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