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Old 08-28-2010, 06:08 AM
 
Location: Central CT, sometimes NH.
3,256 posts, read 4,910,189 times
Reputation: 3014

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I enjoy riding my motorcycle. While I often spend most of my time enjoying a scenic road through the more rural areas of our beautiful state I also enjoy riding through many of our larger cities and towns as well.

As I drive through many communities I can't help but notice the large number of boarded up or empty buildings, factories, large plaza stores, small strip stores, and little stand-alone businesses. Many of these buildings have been empty for years, long before the current economic downturn.

A recent trip to Main Street in Holyoke Mass really drove the point home as dozens of once thriving businesses stand in ruin among a handful of businesses most likely barely hanging on. The same condition could easily be found in areas of Hartford, Waterbury, Bridgeport, and many other locations in Connecticut.

What will we ever do with all these empty buildings? Other than the convenience stores, pizza places, bars, and other similar businesses scattered among them these buildings that once housed retail stores and manufacturers aren't likely to attract any tenants.

Talking to my new neighbor who recently relocated from Detroit he informed me that in Detroit they recently bulldozed entire areas of the city, ripped up the concrete, and seeded the areas, built gardens, and in many cases allowed people to farm the land. Could this be a feasible solution?
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Old 08-28-2010, 07:08 AM
 
Location: New England
8,155 posts, read 18,202,076 times
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Look I'm far from an environmentalist, but I do consider myself a conservationist. With that eye, the problem I see is these buildings are empty, and new buildings and strip malls or whatever are being built nearby when there should be at least some incentive for reuse of existing structures.

Granted, some of this is caused by over the top environmental policies which all but leave these areas abandoned because of some micro level of whatever that needs to be remidiated before being resused.

Other times it's caused by over the top local zoning laws.

Other times it's caused by companies saving a miniscule amount of money clearing land and building new vs using an existing building.

The Manchester Parkade is a great example. There is an entire plaza that has been sitting there for over 10 years.

Detroit is another world...they just lost everything. Perot might have been correct about that "sucking sound". He got the direction wrong (West vs South) but he was correct.
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Old 08-28-2010, 07:29 AM
 
Location: Central CT, sometimes NH.
3,256 posts, read 4,910,189 times
Reputation: 3014
Quote:
Originally Posted by JViello View Post
Look I'm far from an environmentalist, but I do consider myself a conservationist. With that eye, the problem I see is these buildings are empty, and new buildings and strip malls or whatever are being built nearby when there should be at least some incentive for reuse of existing structures.

Granted, some of this is caused by over the top environmental policies which all but leave these areas abandoned because of some micro level of whatever that needs to be remidiated before being resused.

Other times it's caused by over the top local zoning laws.

Other times it's caused by companies saving a miniscule amount of money clearing land and building new vs using an existing building.

The Manchester Parkade is a great example. There is an entire plaza that has been sitting there for over 10 years.

Detroit is another world...they just lost everything. Perot might have been correct about that "sucking sound".
I agree with you about conservation. Unfortunately many of these buildings have fallen into desrepair and have been sitting vacant for decades. Some have environmental contamination and nobody wants the responsibility of cleaning up the contaminated sites. The downside is that these buildings left in a rotting state bring down the value of the entire community and generate a sense of hopelessness among residents.

I used to ride my bike out to the Manchester Parkade as a kid. I remember going with my mom at Christmas time and feeling the excitement as the stores were packed. Now there are just too many clone stores offering the same merchandise. Much of it can be found at Walmart or a warehouse club so that many people don't go many other places.

This is a problem throughout our country. We are hooked on cheap disposable junk and there is really a very small market for anything truly unique if it costs more than a few cents extra.

If we are purely a service society and technology allows the cheap delivery of goods without a physical presence then we need considerably fewer stores and retail buildings. If we import a majority of our consumer goods we need fewer factory buildings. If the the small, medium and large businesses that formerly filled these empty spaces aren't needed we don't have anywhere for people to work and thus increase the demand for cheaper goods and services provided from afar.

That is the challenge. How to find a way to use our numerous assets without cannibalizing our own country? The solution involves creating incentives for domestic new business development that may be coupled with redevelopment incentives.

The best bet, in my opinion, would be alternate energy development, manufacturing and related technology for domestic and export purposes.
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Old 08-28-2010, 07:50 AM
 
Location: Central CT, sometimes NH.
3,256 posts, read 4,910,189 times
Reputation: 3014
There is a lot of need for construction work of our roads, bridges, and the redevelopment of our communities. That was where most of the stimulus funds were supposed to go. Unfortunately, in my opinion, most of it was squandered and the opportunity was lost. Borrowing more money is not sustainable.

The longterm solution requires structural shifts in education and training of our workforce and a clearly communicated and incentified national economic goal that works with, not against business.
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Old 08-28-2010, 07:55 AM
 
Location: Coastal Northeast
15,742 posts, read 22,000,448 times
Reputation: 5277
Quote:
Originally Posted by JViello View Post
Look I'm far from an environmentalist, but I do consider myself a conservationist. With that eye, the problem I see is these buildings are empty, and new buildings and strip malls or whatever are being built nearby when there should be at least some incentive for reuse of existing structures.

Granted, some of this is caused by over the top environmental policies which all but leave these areas abandoned because of some micro level of whatever that needs to be remidiated before being resused.

Other times it's caused by over the top local zoning laws.

Other times it's caused by companies saving a miniscule amount of money clearing land and building new vs using an existing building.

The Manchester Parkade is a great example. There is an entire plaza that has been sitting there for over 10 years.
It's funny you mention that because driving around the New Haven area, I noticed this and mentioned it to a friend of mine just last week. It's happening all over. One place I see it happening often is the lower Naugatuck Valley - some plazas are falling victim to the economy yet they're building full strip malls that remain half empty right up the road. I can think of a few in Derby along Route 34, in Seymour along 67, Shelton along Bridgeport Ave, and even down in Orange, Milford and West Haven on the Post Road.

I disagree that it's caused by "over the top local zoning laws" though - unless I misunderstand exactly what you mean by that. Care to explain? I think it's more than likely caused by lax zoning.

I agree with Lincolnian - tear 'em down. Anyone hear of the "Broken windows theory"?
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Old 08-28-2010, 08:00 AM
 
Location: In a house
13,258 posts, read 34,636,559 times
Reputation: 20198
And in the wintertime when the community field is covered with snow and the ground is frozen solid and nothing is growing? What will thrive there then? Who will benefit from it? Also, in order to -sustain- a community farm, you need two farms; one to lay fallow and one to produce, so you can alternate yearly, preventing soil death and the need for chemical soil enhancers.

There was one in New Haven, near the Boulevard. It was a great place, if you were a drug addict. Personally I'd rather see the buildings abandoned and boarded up, knowing that whoever owns them is paying taxes on the property, than bulldoze them and turn them into flattened corners of land where everyone gets excited about it for a season, then turns it into the next local drug hangout.

That's a problem with these strip-malls - someone OWNS that property. And if the town takes the property, it means that's one bit of property less that will -not- bring taxes into the town. It is a permanent loss. They would rather take a 10-year loss on a property owner who refuses to pay taxes, than a permanent loss by not waiting for someone else to buy it.
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Old 08-28-2010, 08:02 AM
 
8,780 posts, read 16,248,821 times
Reputation: 5219
Quote:
Originally Posted by kidyankee764 View Post
It's funny you mention that because driving around the New Haven area, I noticed this and mentioned it to a friend of mine just last week. It's happening all over. One place I see it happening often is the lower Naugatuck Valley - some plazas are falling victim to the economy yet they're building full strip malls that remain half empty right up the road. I can think of a few in Derby along Route 34, in Seymour along 67, Shelton along Bridgeport Ave, and even down in Orange, Milford and West Haven on the Post Road.

I disagree that it's caused by "over the top local zoning laws" though - unless I misunderstand exactly what you mean by that. Care to explain? I think it's more than likely caused by lax zoning.

I agree with Lincolnian - tear 'em down. Anyone hear of the "Broken windows theory"?
It's nice to see rehab/re-use, but it doesn't always work out. Specifically, i know of a plaza on Huntington Turnpike in Bridgeport which was neglected for decades. They did a fantastic rehab(seriously, thumbs up) on the property and the area is relatively "safe", yet the plaza is probably 20% occupied. Too bad.
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Old 08-28-2010, 08:09 AM
 
Location: Coastal Northeast
15,742 posts, read 22,000,448 times
Reputation: 5277
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratford, Ct. Resident View Post
It's nice to see rehab/re-use, but it doesn't always work out. Specifically, i know of a plaza on Huntington Turnpike in Bridgeport which was neglected for decades. They did a fantastic rehab(seriously, thumbs up) on the property and the area is relatively "safe", yet the plaza is probably 20% occupied. Too bad.
Do you think that's because of the stigma attached to the old building, or just a sign of time times?
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Old 08-28-2010, 08:12 AM
 
Location: Central CT, sometimes NH.
3,256 posts, read 4,910,189 times
Reputation: 3014
Quote:
Originally Posted by kidyankee764 View Post
It's funny you mention that because driving around the New Haven area, I noticed this and mentioned it to a friend of mine just last week. It's happening all over. One place I see it happening often is the lower Naugatuck Valley - some plazas are falling victim to the economy yet they're building full strip malls that remain half empty right up the road. I can think of a few in Derby along Route 34, in Seymour along 67, Shelton along Bridgeport Ave, and even down in Orange, Milford and West Haven on the Post Road.

I disagree that it's caused by "over the top local zoning laws" though - unless I misunderstand exactly what you mean by that. Care to explain? I think it's more than likely caused by lax zoning.

I agree with Lincolnian - tear 'em down. Anyone hear of the "Broken windows theory"?
Broken Window Theory is certainly prevalent on a good portion of Main Street in Holyoke which is unfortunate since there are some architecturally-beautiful homes nearby that are flashbacks of years-gone-by.

The result is that many people continue to move further and further away from these locations when many of these locations could have great value due to their strategic location to highways, rivers, and other infrastructure.
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Old 08-28-2010, 08:15 AM
 
8,780 posts, read 16,248,821 times
Reputation: 5219
Quote:
Originally Posted by kidyankee764 View Post
Do you think that's because of the stigma attached to the old building, or just a sign of time times?
It's probably mostly due to reluctance of prospective tenants to open in Bridgeport. It probably didn't help matters that a small strip mall was recently built not far up the road.
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