Tanks on the border, but it isn’t a military strategy.

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For a commodity as market-sensitive as petroleum (let’s call it “gas”), a featurette on pricing is less likely to be indicative of market trends than, say, certain perishable goods (which induced considerable hardship on dairy and grain farmers these last few years) or certain appliances (in which the decline in demand has bankrupted several high-profile …Read more…

CityWay Phase Two: retail retreat and its impact on the street.

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My latest just went up at Urban Indy.  It focuses on the CityWay mixed-used development in downtown Indianapolis, which includes a few hundred apartments, multiple restaurants, a hotel, and a multi-level YMCA.That’s phase one, at least.  Now the developer is embarking on Phase Two, which will double the apartment units (to nearly 500), add some …Read more…

In Central Falls, a strip mall is still salvation.

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Even in the best of times, the opening of a new strip mall rarely if ever gets anyone’s pulses racing. This one, on the southern boundary of Central Falls, Rhode Island, a suburb of nearby Providence, is no different.The only characteristic that distinguishes this is a certain three-letter adjective that appears in my first sentence—a word …Read more…

Subsidization and its discontents.

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My latest just recently went to post at Urban Indy. The subject, a parking garage in an Indianapolis neighborhood, might seem dry or parochial to those outside of that metro region, but it speaks powerfully about the potential pitfalls of poorly prepared public-private partnerships.  Here’s the garage: It sits at a prime corner in Broad …Read more…

Bridging the gap between state budgets.

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The unincorporated community of Upper Black Eddy clutches the western bank of the Delaware River as though its existence depends upon the aquatic arterial. Because it does.        It’s so small, the Census doesn’t even track it. Despite the fact the hotel operated by the Black family first operated at least 150 years ago, the …Read more…

MONTAGE: An abandoned building is bad enough. But what about an abandoned campus?

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It’s been a long time since I’ve shared a mostly photo-driven blog article, and I can’t think of a richer array from recent years than that of Dana College, a private educational institution founded in Blair, Nebraska. Originally affiliated with the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Association (the denomination and nationality of the original pioneer founders), various …Read more…

A chip off the old bulb.

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Seven months after the announcement, it still seems like the largest municipal bankruptcy filing (at least up to this point) is the stuff of legend—the culminating event, after successive blunders.  The apex.  Or the nadir.  No doubt those of us living here are guilty of a degree of chauvinism as we experience how it plays …Read more…

A signal to retreat to the suburbs? Too late.

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Scattered throughout various locations throughout the City of Detroit, one is likely to run into this unusual sign. It may be unusual in almost any other urban area, but not the Motor City.  In due time, the city could end up removing this traffic light at the intersection of Peterboro Street and Second Avenue altogether.  …Read more…

And on the seventh day…He created a market.

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With this article I venture into what may prove one of my most overtly political topics ever, possibly against better judgment.  Yet I wade into these waters as a deliberate challenge to myself, since I strive to separate the intensive political controversy that this tourist attraction elicits from what I think is more interesting and …Read more…