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
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.
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.
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
With a constantly changing tenancy, it is no surprise that apartment complexes and renter-occupied housing age quickly—usually much faster than owner-occupied housing. The disparity between these two fundamental housing contracts (renting and owning) owes a great deal to basic human psychology: we are more impelled to take care of property if it belongs to us
In the large American cities that lack a robust public transportation system—which is most of them—we justifiably celebrate every minor victory toward shifting development away from auto-centrism. Mid-sized cities in the Midwest and South seem to be among the most susceptible: most of them have a “Midtown” district that predates the automobile. If it is
My latest post–a long one–is up at Urban Indy. Over the past few weeks, a winning proposal for a development to replace an Indianapolis Fire Department station on prime real estate has generated quite a bit of controversy, no doubt in part because Tax Increment Financing will help to subsidize the result. Here’s what it