All Articles Tagged "urban redevelopment"

Reassessing The Gentrification Debate: Is It All About Race or Just Economics?

December 16th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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By Brittany Hutson

Chris and Trey are brothers who grew up in mid-city New Orleans. Trey left home and became an attorney in New York City while Chris stayed behind and has long been dedicated to his neighborhood. But an impending building project is slated to transform their area, causing Chris anxiety about current residents being displaced because the new developments will be too expensive for people to live in. But Trey believes the impending change will be beneficial to the neighborhood.

The brothers are fictional characters yet their story resonates with an issue that is very real and is continuously stirring up controversial debates in cities across the nation, including Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, and Los Angeles’ Echo Park.

“Brothers from the Bottom” is a production currently being shown at the Billie Holiday Theater in Brooklyn that brings to light the issue of gentrification as it occurs in predominately African-American communities. The play parallels an ongoing partnership between Louisiana State University and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and their efforts to build a joint medical campus in downtown New Orleans, scheduled for completion in 2013. The campus will span across 70 acres within a national historic district that will force the demolition of at least a hundred houses and small businesses. Preservationists have voiced concerns about displacing residents and losing historic assets.

Playwright Jackie Alexander attempts to show through his production how the debate around gentrification can cause a rift between neighbors and family members, as evidenced through the characters of Chris and Trey, brothers who are on opposing sides.

Gentrification is defined as the process of neighborhood change that results in the replacement of lower income residents with higher incomes ones. It is a housing, economic and health issue that affects a community’s history and culture and reduces social capital, according to the Center for Disease Control. The process shifts a neighborhood’s characteristics (i.e. racial/ethnic composition and household income) by adding new stores and creating desirable housing stock in neighborhoods previously run-down, due to crime, crumbling infrastructure, or otherwise.

It has long been associated with a strong racial component. Typically, lower income African Americans and/or Hispanics are the dominate residents in the neighborhoods that are slated for an upgrade. The outsiders (as they are commonly known) that begin to move into the neighborhood are believed to usually be higher income Caucasians. Nevertheless, studies over the last several years have reiterated that the causes of gentrification are not so black and white.

“It’s never the intent to get a certain group of people moved out of their homes,” says Barbara Becker, a dean at the University of Texas Arlington School of Urban and Public Affairs. “What happens is the housing stock that we find charming and wonderful and that everybody wants to live in is closer to the city. We’re also becoming more in tuned to being closer to our jobs so location becomes important, as well as the housing stock.”

She goes on to explain that when an influx of people moved to the suburbs during the 1940s, 50s and 60s, the housing stock in metropolitan areas went down and over time, lower economic groups began to inhabit those areas.

Program Aims to Revitalize Neighborhoods

November 29th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(Chicago Tribune) — At first blush, there aren’t many similarities between Chicago’s historic Pullman neighborhood and Grove Parc Plaza, a federally subsidized housing project six miles north in the Woodlawn neighborhood.  One was built more than 120 years ago to house factory workers; the other more than 40 years ago to assist low-income families. Both are now test cases of whether federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program dollars and other monetary incentives can entice homebuyers to open their wallets and reinvigorate communities whose storied days have long passed. And for both, the experiments require a long-range outlook at a time when private financing is tight and a pioneering spirit is in short supply.

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Urban ‘Greenprint’ Essential for City of Tomorrow

November 3rd, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(Model D) — Mitchell Silver’s name might not ring a bell to the average person, but in the world of urban planning he’s quite the rock star. He’s the director of the planning department in Raleigh, North Carolina, and  president-elect of the American Planning Association. In his 25 years in the business, he’s been involved in in numerous notable projects, including a re-envisioning of Harlem’s riverfront and Jamaica Center in New York City as well as the revitalization of neighborhoods in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.   Silver was recently in Detroit for the Michigan Association of Planning conference that was held at the Renaissance Center October 20 to 23, and Model D had the chance to sit down with him at Starbucks for a little chat. We discussed the role of urban design in achieving social equity, national policies that can help aging industrial cities like Detroit, zoning and building codes, urban agriculture and the Detroit Works initiative among other topics.

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The New Harlem Renaissance

November 1st, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(Crain’s) — On a recent Saturday night, a red carpet was rolled out on Frederick Douglass Boulevard near West 116th Street. Bright lights shone, West African music pulsed through the air and lanky models showed off a new collection of Africa-inspired clothing by Ibrahima Doukoure to mark his boutique’s third anniversary.  The scene was a far cry from the one on 116th Street when Guinean-born Mr. Doukoure arrived in Harlem from Rome 16 years ago. Then, he had to walk to 110th Street and Broadway just to find a bank. He had to lie to Yellow Cab drivers to get a ride home, telling them he was going to 110th and Central Park West.

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Atlanta ‘Test Bed’ for Reusing Urban Spaces

October 25th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(Atlanta Journal Constitution) — For decades, metro Atlanta was known for its expansive and new development.  Georgia Tech, however, wants the region to be better known for innovative “urban infill,” what urban planners generally refer to as the redevelopment of industrial areas or land with previous uses.  Using several grants, the school is at the forefront of defining “urban infill” in a blueprint that could help other cities. It is starting with the former Ford plant, which has been proposed as an “aerotropolis,” or generally an area that thrives off nearby airport activity.

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