The City After Abandonment

The City After Abandonment

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    The City After Abandonment
    Book Description:

    A number of U.S. cities, former manufacturing centers of the Northeast and Midwest, have suffered such dramatic losses in population and employment that urban experts have put them in a class by themselves, calling them "rustbelt cities," "shrinking cities," and more recently "legacy cities." This decline has led to property disinvestment, extensive demolition, and abandonment. While much policy and planning have focused on growth and redevelopment, little research has investigated the conditions of disinvested places and why some improvement efforts have greater impact than others. The City After Abandonment brings together essays from top urban planning experts to focus on policy and planning issues related to three questions. What are cities becoming after abandonment? The rise of community gardens and artists' installations in Detroit and St. Louis reveal numerous unexamined impacts of population decline on the development of these cities. Why these outcomes? By analyzing post-hurricane policy in New Orleans, the acceptance of becoming a smaller city in Youngstown, Ohio, and targeted assistance to small areas of Baltimore, Cleveland, and Detroit, this book assesses how varied institutions and policies affect the process of change in cities where demand for property is very weak. What should abandoned areas of cities become? Assuming growth is not a choice, this book assesses widely cited formulas for addressing vacancy; analyzes the sustainability plans of Cleveland, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Baltimore; suggests an urban design scheme for shrinking cities; and lays out ways policymakers and planners can approach the future through processes and ideas that differ from those in growing cities.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0730-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: The City After Abandonment
    (pp. 1-14)

    Since the early 1970s, observers of American cities have noted residential abandonment, concentrated in low-income, often minority-race or minority-ethnic neighborhoods.¹ Loss of neighborhoods reached shocking levels in places such as the South Bronx, where by the mid-1970s entire blocks of apartment buildings became uninhabitable and were demolished. By the early part of the twenty-first century, abandonment had become much more than an issue facing certain neighborhoods. Rather, vacant structures and vacant lots dominated the landscape of a large number of previously industrial cities of the Northeast and Midwest as well as other cities such as New Orleans. Neighborhoods reflected this...

  4. CHAPTER 1 Community Gardens and Urban Agriculture as Antithesis to Abandonment: Exploring a Citizenship-Land Model
    (pp. 17-40)
    Laura Lawson and Abbilyn Miller

    In abandoned cities, vacant land not only signals ongoing depopulation and deindustrialization; it also concerns residents because of its vulnerability to illegal dumping and crime and the associated perceptions of blight. Though many residents may dream of restoring their neighborhood to its past vitality, realistically all the vacant land cannot be redeveloped to its former uses—residences, industry, or retail and services. With city agencies often overwhelmed and underresourced, the responsibility falls on residents and neighborhood organizations to shift vacant land from being perceived as abandoned to having purpose. The inspiring stories of neighbors transforming trashed lots into community gardens...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Building Affordable Housing in Cities After Abandonment: The Case of Low Income Housing Tax Credit Developments in Detroit
    (pp. 41-63)
    Lan Deng

    A consensus exists that housing policy should reflect local market conditions. In cities that are growing rapidly, promoting affordable housing production is necessary to accommodate the rising demand. Yet in cities like Detroit where continuous population loss has created an oversupply of housing units, the rationale for subsidizing affordable housing production may not be self-evident. In discussing guiding principles for housing policy, Schill and Wachter argue that production subsidies are appropriate only where special circumstances, such as barriers to supply or the desire to promote neighborhood redevelopment, justify their use.¹ Given this view, we can justify affordable housing production in...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Detroit Art City: Urban Decline, Aesthetic Production, Public Interest
    (pp. 64-84)
    Andrew Herscher

    As Detroit has attracted growing attention as an exemplar of North American postindustrial urban decline, it has also attracted growing attention from artists and architects interested in the material, spatial, cultural, and social conditions of a city marked by depopulation, disinvestment, and decay. This latter interest has yielded projects ranging from documentations of ruined buildings and urban grasslands, through installations on vacant properties, to the introduction of participatory art platforms, artists’ residencies and collectives to “communities in need” and to “distressed” neighborhoods—a cross-section of artistic responses to “community,” “site,” “social relations,” “collaboration,” and “the public.”

    Contemporary North American public...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Decline-Oriented Urban Governance in Youngstown, Ohio
    (pp. 87-103)
    Laura Schatz

    Population decline presents numerous challenges for municipal officials: vacant properties, infrastructure overcapacity, shrinking municipal revenues, and high crime rates. Policies to address these challenges typically focus on attracting outside investment to “grow” the local economy and population. “Going for growth,” however, has been largely unsuccessful.¹ In recent years, shrinking cities researchers have called for a new approach to planning and policy making: decline-oriented planning.² Decline-oriented planning leaves behind the assumption of the likelihood and need for population growth. Instead, it urges planners and policy makers to “rightsize” the city to current population levels (by, for instance, removing infrastructure) and plan...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Targeting Neighborhoods, Stimulating Markets: The Role of Political, Institutional, and Technical Factors in Three Cities
    (pp. 104-132)
    Dale E. Thomson

    Cities experiencing abandonment face complex community development demands with diminishing resources. This challenge requires city leaders to allocate resources strategically. Countering their inclination to assist all areas with need, officials in many cities have determined that targeting resources to a limited number of geographic areas may enhance the impact of their community development investments. In some cases, this includes targeting resources to “middle neighborhoods” that possess a mix of socioeconomic characteristics and have less need for assistance than high-poverty neighborhoods.

    This chapter examines geographically targeted interventions in three cities with high levels of abandonment—Baltimore, Cleveland, and Detroit. In each...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Recovery in a Shrinking City: Challenges to Rightsizing Post-Katrina New Orleans
    (pp. 133-150)
    Renia Ehrenfeucht and Marla Nelson

    Five years after the 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita, vacant property remained a daunting challenge for New Orleans. With 47,738 vacant housing units in 2010, its 25 percent vacancy rate was among the highest in the nation.¹ In addition to posing serious safety hazards, blighted structures and unmaintained lots threatened to undermine fragile neighborhood recovery efforts and deter future investment.

    New Orleans had experienced derelict land resulting from population loss long before Katrina. In the hurricane’s aftermath, however, planners, redevelopment professionals, and commentators from around the country framed the massive destruction as an “opportunity” to address the city’s long-standing problems...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Missing New Orleans: Lessons from the CDC Sector on Vacancy, Abandonment, and Reconstructing the Crescent City
    (pp. 151-173)
    Jeffrey S. Lowe and Lisa K. Bates

    As in many other major U.S. cities with shrinking populations, the New Orleans experience with vacant and abandoned properties has constituted a significant long-term problem where community development corporations (CDCs) sought to respond. “Vacant and abandoned” properties—including those temporarily unoccupied (vacant) as well as permanently empty dwellings and lots where owners have walked away (abandoned) and that often appear unkempt or dilapidated—made up over 12 percent of the housing stock in 2000.¹ After Hurricane Katrina, the chronic problem became a catastrophe. New Orleans sustained 57 percent of all damages in Louisiana.² Approximately 80 percent of the city fl...

  11. CHAPTER 8 What Helps or Hinders Nonprofit Developers in Reusing Vacant, Abandoned, and Contaminated Property?
    (pp. 174-196)
    Margaret Dewar

    Where vacant, abandoned, and contaminated properties concentrate, community development corporations (CDCs) operate as the major developers along with other nonprofit developers such as Habitat for Humanity. CDCs, committed to place, remain while for-profit developers seek higher returns on investment in areas with stronger demand for housing.¹ Other nonprofit developers, committed to housing people who would otherwise be homeless or to providing decent housing for everyone, also work in these areas. In these roles, they function as key actors in remaking cities after abandonment. When they do their jobs well, their projects improve the quality of life for residents who remain....

  12. CHAPTER 9 Targeting Strategies of Three Detroit CDCs
    (pp. 197-224)
    June Manning Thomas

    In considering what happens to cities after abandonment, and why, it’s essential to note that CDCs have played a major role in helping to fill in the gaps left literally by the demolition of abandoned buildings and economically by the decline in private investment. Yet we know very little about how CDCs choose to invest housing development dollars in the context of vacancy and reduced market demand and why they use some patterns of land use as opposed to others. Such knowledge is important if we expect CDCs in distressed environments to play a role in neighborhood redevelopment, in a...

  13. CHAPTER 10 Strategic Thinking for Distressed Neighborhoods
    (pp. 227-243)
    Robert A. Beauregard

    In January 2010, New York governor David Paterson announced his Sustainable Neighborhood Project. Designed to “fight urban decay and revitalize prime housing stock,” his initiative was a response to the persistent population and job loss that beset upstate cities such as Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, and Albany. These losses had left behind large numbers of abandoned homes, as well as neighborhoods with residential densities far below those of previous decades. Leveraging existing state and local programs, Governor Paterson designed the Sustainable Neighborhood Project to rehabilitate blighted properties, demolish structures too costly to renovate, and turn fallow lots into community gardens,...

  14. CHAPTER 11 The Promise of Sustainability Planning for Regenerating Older Industrial Cities
    (pp. 244-267)
    Joseph Schilling and Raksha Vasudevan

    Sustainability has become a critical policy and planning goal, with hundreds of cities launching sustainability initiatives to address threats of global climate change, depleted fossil fuels, and water scarcity.¹ As a conceptual framework that seeks balance among environmental, economic, and social values, sustainability offers a “multigenerational vision of community building that is green, profitable and equitable.”² Translating its broad principles into practice is a complex but promising planning endeavor undertaken in the United States by growing cities confronting urban sprawl such as Seattle, Portland, and jurisdictions in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Sustainability’s holistic vision could provide shrinking cities with...

  15. CHAPTER 12 Rightsizing Shrinking Cities: The Urban Design Dimension
    (pp. 268-288)
    Brent D. Ryan

    Recently urban policy makers have begun to make “rightsizing” a watchword for the perceived mismatch between shrinking city populations, physical and infrastructural plants, and budgets. Built for a population in some cases over twice that currently within the city limits, shrinking cities now have an unmanageably large array of streets, utilities, public buildings, parks, and housing. “Rightsizing” refers to the yet-unproved process of bringing cities down to a “right” size, meaning a size proportionate to city government’s ability to pay for itself. Rightsizing has thus far come to little in shrinking cities. In the United States, decades of optimistic master...

  16. CHAPTER 13 Planning for Better, Smaller Places After Population Loss: Lessons from Youngstown and Flint
    (pp. 289-316)
    Margaret Dewar, Christina Kelly and Hunter Morrison

    Urban planning focuses on growth. Although many planners work in places with extensive disinvestment, they mainly focus on encouraging and responding to development projects. Much research exists on the causes of decline and abandonment but little on what planners should do when development does not occur.¹ Urban planning as a field has had little to say about what cities should become following decline—population and employment loss, property disinvestment, and property abandonment. The most recent edition of the “Green Book,” a handbook of local planning, addressed ways to encourage citizen participation, reuse surplus property, and leverage assets where population has...

  17. NOTES
    (pp. 317-372)
  18. List of Contributors
    (pp. 373-378)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 379-386)
    (pp. 387-394)