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Old 04-19-2013, 02:43 PM
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
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It seems as if every city has a downtown, or densely populated area, surrounded by some of the worst slums in the city. Do cities need to address the blight in those areas, or is it more practical to build up the neighborhoods on either side of those slums, as most cities seem to be doing?

I'm not talking, gentrification, or "let's get rid of our working poor", or anything of that nature, but can cities improve conditions in said areas, even if they are housing projects, rather than tear them down, in order to build out their downtown, or provide more cohesion between areas on both sides in order that there would be less of a stark contrast between neighborhoods in the city?
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Old 04-19-2013, 06:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by goofy328 View Post
It seems as if every city has a downtown, or densely populated area, surrounded by some of the worst slums in the city. Do cities need to address the blight in those areas, or is it more practical to build up the neighborhoods on either side of those slums, as most cities seem to be doing?

I'm not talking, gentrification, or "let's get rid of our working poor", or anything of that nature, but can cities improve conditions in said areas, even if they are housing projects, rather than tear them down, in order to build out their downtown, or provide more cohesion between areas on both sides in order that there would be less of a stark contrast between neighborhoods in the city?
Can cities address blight without clearcutting the area? Yes. The solution is to help the residents improve their QOL while only making minor changes to the built form of the neighborhood. Engender optimism and community pride in residents and many of the worst problems will be solved from the inside-out.

The city only needs small (relatively or absolutely) projects to support that community pride: repairing streets and sidewalks, planting (or, at least, supporting) community gardens, plazas, and parks, improving resident health, providing free paint to home- and business-owners, etc.
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Old 04-19-2013, 06:21 PM
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
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Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
Can cities address blight without clearcutting the area? Yes. The solution is to help the residents improve their QOL while only making minor changes to the built form of the neighborhood. Engender optimism and community pride in residents and many of the worst problems will be solved from the inside-out.

The city only needs small (relatively or absolutely) projects to support that community pride: repairing streets and sidewalks, planting (or, at least, supporting) community gardens, plazas, and parks, improving resident health, providing free paint to home- and business-owners, etc.
Such a project is occurring here in Norfolk for $33,000. A group called the Better Block project; they've had some success out in San Antonio. Should be interesting.
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Old 04-20-2013, 09:18 AM
 
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These inner-ring neighborhoods, left to fester and abandoned for about 50 years by the so-called Greatest Generation and the Boomers are about the hottest thing going right now among GenX and Millennials. Areas around here 5 years ago that had prostitution, gang violence, crack houses, etc and that no one went to are not being transformed into vibrant neighborhoods of nice apartments, funky homes, cafes and restaurants, art galleries and bike shops. The land values are climbing with each propery transformed and the prostitutes, thugs and drug addicts no long find it to be a safe haven. As they leave by he busload and get replaced by people who appreciate and take care of the neighborhood, look out for the children, homes and businesses, the stigma of blight drops away and people fighting long commutes are finding themselves looking longingly at once decrepit neighborhood they would not dare go in, to neighborhoods they can no longer afford.

It's quite a cycle and will be a dominant trend everywhere in the first half of the 21st century.

The latter half of the 21st century will be dominated by people trying to recreate what is going on in the inner cities to the suburbs and exurbs... There will be varying degrees of success.

Last edited by Komeht; 04-20-2013 at 10:43 AM..
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:57 AM
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
6,383 posts, read 6,005,983 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
These inner-ring neighborhoods, left to fester and abandoned for about 50 years by the so-called Greatest Generation and the Boomers are about the hottest thing going right now among GenX and Millennials. Areas around here 5 years ago that had prostitution, gang violence, crack houses, etc and that no one went to are not being transformed into vibrant neighborhoods of nice apartments, funky homes, cafes and restaurants, art galleries and bike shops. The land values are climbing with each propery transformed and the prostitutes, thugs and drug addicts no long find it to be a safe haven. As they leave by he busload and get replaced by people who appreciate and take care of the neighborhood, look out for the children, homes and businesses, the stigma of blight drops away and people fighting long commutes are finding themselves looking longingly at once decrepit neighborhood they would not dare go in, to neighborhoods they can no longer afford.

It's quite a cycle and will be a dominant trend everywhere in the first half of the 21st century.

The latter half of the 21st century will be dominated by people trying to recreate what is going on in the inner cities to the suburbs and exurbs... There will be varying degrees of success.
I find it interesting that you have poorer suburbs without the cultural aspect one would associate with the inner city (when those were working class neighborhoods and the middle class lived in the inner city) across America. Perhaps they're not sure where to start, or, due to the nature of suburbia, there is no real consensus on how to move forward.
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Old 04-20-2013, 11:42 AM
 
Location: South Park, San Diego
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Some of the best and most desirable neighborhoods in our city directly encircle downtown, a few less than desirable ones once you get out a ways and the worst are generally considered suburban- not that there are not some very nice suburbs as well.

Last edited by T. Damon; 04-20-2013 at 12:04 PM..
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Old 04-20-2013, 11:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by T. Damon View Post
Some of the best and most desirable neighborhoods in our city directly encircle downtown, a few less that desirable ones once you get out a ways and the worst are generally considered suburban- not that there are not some very nice suburbs as well.
Right - except for the odd pocket (usually right around government housing) there are NO slums left surrounding downtown.

There are some as you travel further out from downtown - usually on the other side of a big division like a highway. And then after that it's a mix of tolerable suburban or really flat out depressing suburban until you hit rural towns and countryside which - a few towns being really nice and others being more or less a confluence of mobile homes with the main source of economic life being meth.
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Old 04-20-2013, 06:32 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Honestly OP, I have no idea what you're talking about. Most major cities I can think of (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, DC, Chicago, etc) have essentially every neighborhood surrounding downtown now highly gentrified and safe. San Francisco has one exception (the Tenderloin), but city policy purposefully keeps it a neighborhood for the poor despite the close proximity to downtown.

There are more troubled cities which have blight closer to downtown still. Cleveland, for example, or Saint Louis. But even in these cases the blight tends to be on one side of downtown, with the other side seeing something approaching gentrification as well.
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Old 04-20-2013, 06:45 PM
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
Honestly OP, I have no idea what you're talking about. Most major cities I can think of (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, DC, Chicago, etc) have essentially every neighborhood surrounding downtown now highly gentrified and safe. San Francisco has one exception (the Tenderloin), but city policy purposefully keeps it a neighborhood for the poor despite the close proximity to downtown.

There are more troubled cities which have blight closer to downtown still. Cleveland, for example, or Saint Louis. But even in these cases the blight tends to be on one side of downtown, with the other side seeing something approaching gentrification as well.
Norfolk, VA, and you already mentioned the East side of Cleveland. Portsmouth, VA as well. I haven't been to the West side of Cleveland so I can't speak on it. Detroit is another example. Dayton, OH.
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Old 04-20-2013, 07:04 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Originally Posted by goofy328 View Post
Norfolk, VA, and you already mentioned the East side of Cleveland. Portsmouth, VA as well. I haven't been to the West side of Cleveland so I can't speak on it. Detroit is another example. Dayton, OH.
I've never been to the Hampton Roads area, so I can't comment on that. On the West Side of Cleveland, neighborhoods immediately past downtown (Ohio City, Tramont) are definitely gentrifying. Detroit is a basketcase overall - it's not like downtown is great - and actually then neighborhoods near it are some of the best remaining in the city. You might also consider Baltimore to be part of the same group.

Regardless, what all these cities have in common is there's not enough "gentrification demand." The young urbanists considering moving there are small enough in numbers they can really only "turn" one or two neighborhoods at a time. The cost to rent or own is also comparably low, so there's no reason for them to settle on a dangerous, majority-minority ghetto when they can move into a slightly run down formerly working-class white area. Gentrification preferentially starts in poor white areas, then Latino neighborhoods, and only moves into heavily black areas if there's no other options.

In general, gentrification is an organic process, and there's not much that cities do to get the ball rolling in individual neighborhoods, unless it involves revitalizing a traditionally mixed-use area (commercial district, port, warehouse district) where small-scare restoration isn't going to cut it. Cities have far more luck stopping gentrification (as San Francisco has done in the Tenderloin, or NYC has done to a degree by keeping public housing within very expensive neighborhoods), than actually spreading it around.
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