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Flint, Michigan

mgk920

Cyburbian
Messages
4,201
Points
26
Wanigas? said:
[ot]

I'm not so sure about this. Planning is about people, and people make decisions. The only "forces of nature" at work here are the neuronal firings that precede the decisions made by humans and random acts of natural phenomena. There is no equilibrium. But I do get a sense what you are talking about. But in terms of cities and places, I think it is a misnomer.[/ot]
By 'forces of nature', I mean the economic and other factors that drive decision making, both on a personal and a more 'global' level. Eventually, those forces will override anything that people may want to see happen. For example, people may WANT to stay in an area, but if there is no economic reason to be there, a lack of personal resources will force them to move somewhere else in order to live.

Mike
 
Messages
48
Points
2
Are there any solutions to help revitalize Flint? I'm sure thousands of things have been tried...is there any potential in Flint?
 

dnast

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
bross said:
Are there any solutions to help revitalize Flint? I'm sure thousands of things have been tried...is there any potential in Flint?

The city is just basically trying to fix its physical appearance right now. Plenty of streets are getting paved, neighborhoods are being cleaned (by the government and area citizens), abandoned property is being targeted, and there's even a hotline for illegal dumping. (I doubt it occurs in many other cities, so for those of you who don't know, illegal dumping refers to people and sometimes companies taking a truckload of trash and dumping it in on a neighborhood lawn).

The city helped bring a new ~80 home subdivision just north of downtown a few years ago. It was plagued by delays (the last of the homes are still under construction) but seems to be a success. If things go as planned, the adjacent neighborhood will get plenty of infill development - townhouses, duplexes, single family homes, and neighborhood businesses. I believe there will be 160 new units and about 180 rehabbed homes in the neighborhood.

Downtown has been getting renewed interest - and not just the Cool Cities project ;). Several buildings have received new facades, one was completely renovated at the end of last year with 3 more currently under reconstruction. Next month, work will start on another building which will combine three vacant buildings into a "complex" that will house 2 restaurants, a nightclub, office space, and 16 loft apartments. A suburban company is bringing 100-150 of its employees to its new headquarts in the building. The University of Michigan - Flint in downtown expects to have a new dorm to house 250-300 students (it currently has no housing). Several new businesses have opened shop downtown in the past year or two, as well.

Those projects are all small (4-7 stories), but no matter how corny the name, you can't deny that just the attention that the Cool Cities initiative brings really has made people take a second look at the core cities of Michigan. The grants themselves don't even put a dent in construction costs.

GM recently invested $500 million (or somewhere around that) in the city. Kettering University (top engineering school in the US) has been researching fuel cells and opened a business incubator. Hopefully there's a future in that. The city still desperately needs to diversify its economy, but seems to be doing OK with what it has. Health care will probably be its largest industry in the near future, but that can only grow so much.

The city is probably still losing population, but seems to be slowly moving in the right direction. The schools' test scores are up this year and crime seems to be down some (it's still bad, though). I think what the city is mainly missing are jobs. It's no easy task to bring enough here to stabilize the economy. I know I don't have any answers...

(sorry for the long rant :))
 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,194
Points
22
Some spot-on comments about overreliance on a single industry and sizing/gettign paid for a peak, golden period taht is never goign to be repeated. On a more diffuse sscale, this is an issue that has 'plagued' rich-country farming since the end of WW I.

I think you will find that the attempt to 'restrain' change has had a lot to do with the duration of the problem. In effect, goivernment help to try to alleviate the problem often prolongs the agony, rather than acheiving a more rapid transformation. Ultimately, IF (adn it's a big IF that onyl a local economci hsitorian can answer) the onyl reason Flitn was the town it was deriveved from Gm being there, then yes, ti shoudlm revert ot being Farmland. In reality, given the infrastructure that remains there, assuming the minimum wage is not set too high, you'd expect some other sort of industry to base itself there. Someone mentioned excessive taxation. that can surely be an issue, if goevrnment expenditure does not shrink as fast as the private economy. Govvie expenditure, CYCLICALLY, tends to rise as the economy cotnracts, but if the contaction is structural, then so shoudl the government shrink, ideally very rapidly.

On a seprate note, the (in my opinion) excessive, balkanized division of US local government can exacerbate this.
 

mgk920

Cyburbian
Messages
4,201
Points
26
Luca said:
On a seprate note, the (in my opinion) excessive, balkanized division of US local government can exacerbate this.
This is a HUGE problem in many northern and northeastern states in the USA. The residents (and especially the politicians in those local governments) place a far greater priority on their micro-local 'identities' and 'independence' than they do on the quality and efficiency of services.

Michigan state law has made it very difficult for its cities to annex land for most of the 20th Century and it is virtually impossible for most of the state's cities to add any land area now. Flint is built out and landlocked, with no way to grow their tax base other than for the 'value' and economic activity of the existing city to increase. When a city like that is in an economic downswing, it becomes a viscious circle feeding on itself until there is nothing left but a rotted hole.

Mike
 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,194
Points
22
mgk920 said:
This is a HUGE problem in many northern and northeastern states in the USA. The residents (and especially the politicians in those local governments) place a far greater priority on their micro-local 'identities' and 'independence' than they do on the quality and efficiency of services.

Michigan state law has made it very difficult for its cities to annex land for most of the 20th Century and it is virtually impossible for most of the state's cities to add any land area now. Flint is built out and landlocked, with no way to grow their tax base other than for the 'value' and economic activity of the existing city to increase. When a city like that is in an economic downswing, it becomes a viscious circle feeding on itself until there is nothing left but a rotted hole.
Mike

Not to be flippant, but if it's gonna rot...let it rot quickly and then it WILL be worth someone's while to step in (if only for the cheap, empty real estate). Prolongign teh agony is the worst policy; it's not a matter of being hertless. If you think of that sort ofm town as a company, better to hit bankrupcy, the original shareholders get wiped out (bad bet, sorry) and new money can flow in. In this case, unfortunately, the SOL shareholders are the citizens, whose real estate will become worthless or nearly so.
 

dnast

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
Yes, Flint's "boom" came about because of GM, but I'm so sure about returning to farmland. I understand the reasoning behind your point, but its small (~450k) one-county metro area would suffer greatly along with the city. When Flint returns to its turn of the century population and its suburbs aren't doing much better because of that fact, no matter how cheap it is, who would honestly invest in that land? I think the area would need some incentive to attract jobs and developers back be it available workers or open space (the city wouldn't have the money to clean up the mess this mass exodus would cause).

In an ideal situation, abandoned properties would only be around other abandoned properties, and going back to farmland would actually be ideal and a fairly simple process. I think there are some parts of a few neighborhoods that come close enough to that, but how do you justify moving the remaining residents out of their homes because you want to create open space? I'm no urban planner and have never worked for the government (besides paying taxes), so I'm asking if anyone has heard of something any city doing this or if its even possible?


On the point of being land locked: It's kind of ironic that most of Flint's more newly available land is coming from the demolition of the huge auto factories that once made the city prosperous. The recent demolition of a Delphi plant is giving the city the oppurtunity to implement plans for a revitalized riverfront area near downtown with urban residential, office, retail space, and parkland (as opposed to factories, parking lots, and concrete riverbanks). Unfortunately, city leaders (not sure about the new administration) are/were holding out on partitioning the Buick City land for small companies, and instead are waiting for the next big factory to save the city... :cool:


Oh yeah - What benefits did the state think would come from virtually stopping all annexation (only a half-rhetorical question)?
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
15,531
Points
60
dnast, thanks for the info about the recent development in and around downtown Flint. I'll have to check it out next time i visit my parents. They live outside Lapeer, and my dad's office is in the Mott building downtown.
 

btrage

Cyburbian
Messages
6,427
Points
27
Flint

For those of you interested in things happening in Flint, here's a link to an e-mag that is dedicated to urban folks in Michigan.

http://milifemitimes.org/email/MiLife_MiTimes_OCT2005.htm

It seems that the redevelopment in Flint is being driven by a mix of university support, cultural awareness, and some private development. Hopefully, the city can carve out a niche for itself.
 
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