Yearly Archives: 2012

Predicting the future by turning back the clocks.

In an essay from the past, I shamelessly stretched the definition of the term “land banking” to suit my own purposes.  How?  By showing two examples of the deliberate assembly of contiguous parcels with the purpose of building something new, but the problem is, neither attempt at parcel assembly consisted of vacant land, as is …Read more…

It may take a village, but what if the village is the taker?

Virtually every metropolitan area in America, both large and small, consists of more than one incorporated municipality, usually with a shared boundary.  Typically the “core” city after which the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is named is the oldest, most industrialized, and the most populous city.  The surrounding, contiguous cities—the suburbs—are the inverse: newer, lower population, …Read more…

Shopping for the masses—the haves and have-nots.

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It seems like I can hardly go more than two months without drumming up a blog article coming from a mall.  Even as enclosed malls have plunged from the popularity peak in the 1970s and early 1980s (a point in time when American downtowns were lifeless almost across the map), they still remain a formidable …Read more…

City Market repurposed: in with the new, but what about the old?

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Three years ago, I surveyed the Indianapolis City Market through this blog, in an exhaustive three-part series.  The venerable old building was in decent enough condition.  But judging from the activity inside, the place was languishing, with less than 50% occupancy, persistent mechanical problems, and a frequently shifting leadership structure.  Through my written analysis and …Read more…

A signal to turn.

My apologies for this latest dry spell in postings.  While I am still working on a large essay that has taken me several weeks (actually, over two months) to assemble, I recently took on a new professional assignment that forced me back to 60+ hour work weeks, giving me a lot less time to devote …Read more…

MONTAGE: The inside-out of the inner city.

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Over the past century, the word “blight” has undergone a curious expansion in its denotations. It was originally a botanical term referring to a disease characterized by discoloration, wilting, and eventual death of plant tissues. In contemporary parlance, however, I suspect a far greater number of people use the term in combination with “urban”—a metaphoric …Read more…

Surrendering to the flow.

My latest post is up at Urban Indy.  It focuses on a new proposal for revitalizing the main street of Greenwood, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis.  The town’s central business districts is essentially four blocks that project from an intersection–except that 1/4 of the original building stock was demolished decades ago for a parking lot.  …Read more…

Streetscapes get a much-unneeded boost.

In recent years, communities large and small have sought new approaches to restore the vitality of their historic business districts.  By this point, virtually everyone can think of a municipality with an old downtown that really does feel like it’s the center of it all: fully occupied buildings, people milling about.  The success stories exist.  …Read more…

No need to move mountains; just plant the right kind of trees.

Across the country—but particularly in the heavily industrialized Northeast and Midwest—smaller cities have confronted the grim realities of the unflattering “Rust Belt” moniker, and all of its associated characteristics, with varying degrees of success.  With an aging work force, difficulty in retaining college graduates, and a frequently decaying building stock, the challenges they face are …Read more…