In August 2023, over 2,700 Brownfields practitioners met in downtown Detroit to share the latest trends and best practices for revitalizing and redeveloping contaminated brownfield sites across the country. The National Brownfields Coalition (NBC), a nonpartisan advocacy coalition convened by Smart Growth America and the Center for Creative Land Recycling (CCLR), actively participated at the … Continued
The City of Detroit worked with Detroit-based designer Ndubisi Okoye to help bridge the first- and last-mile gaps between bus stops and the city’s recreation centers that are providing crucial resources during COVID-19.
Facing incredible challenges during the pandemic, the creative practices of artists have helped five transportation agencies better respond to the rapidly changing demands related to public space, getting around safely, mask wearing, social distancing, and communicating about rules and regulations changing daily.
LOCUS members at 2012’s Leadership Summit.
LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors is proud to announce a new series of industry roundtable discussions about improving the federal government’s role in today’s real estate market.
The discussion series will gather leading real estate developers and investors from across the country to address the federal government’s role in real estate, and create solutions to align federal involvement in real estate to better support walkable development across America.
Architect’s rendering of the M-1 light rail. Image via M-1 RAIL Summer 2012 Project Update.
A group of private sector leaders in Detroit are looking toward a new light rail project to help revive the fortunes of the former car capital.
The group is so confident in the potential of a line, known as the M-1 light rail, they’ve put up nearly $90 million in private funding to make the project a reality. If successful, the group would set a new precedent for the “rail as economic development” paradigm, and provide a new model for cities across the country looking to catalyze smart growth.
The proposed line would run 3.4 miles along Detroit’s Woodward Avenue from the New Center neighborhood to downtown and the riverfront, connecting some of the city’s biggest attractions and job centers. The line would run curbside along Woodward Avenue and provide connections to Detroit’s People Mover and Amtrak station, as well as a planned regional bus rapid transit system.
What kinds of investments allow cities to rebound and jumpstart local economic growth?
If you were feeling cynical, that’s how you might describe the current state of downtown Reno, Nevada. Take a walk down Virginia Avenue and see what I mean. Go past the forlorn casinos, the shuttered liquor store, and the homeless loitering near the 4th Street bus station. Search in vain for a downtown restaurant or bar that is not attached to a gambling institution. And then, when it is dark, walk in the shadow of the National Bowling Stadium, a building designed for a sport whose own history unfortunately mirrors that of the town in which it stands.
A few years ago, that’s how you might have described Woodward Avenue in Detroit. People were fleeing the city then, a trend that had continued since the Motor City’s initial decline in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Great old buildings, monuments to a forgotten past, may well have outnumbered the residents and businesses for which they were fashioned. It was the scariest of places – the loneliest of places.
Almost two decades ago, that’s how you could have literally described part of Oklahoma City. Or as current Mayor Mick Cornett told it at a conference earlier this year, “That’s all people knew about us.”
Each of these places has struggled with decline. But where there is barrenness, there is always a chance at renewal. All across the country, towns are looking to make a comeback. In my role at Smart Growth America, I talk with community leaders and representatives almost every day who ask the same questions. How do we create jobs? How do we attract new residents and new businesses? How do we change our reputation for the better? And then how do we avoid falling down after we’ve gotten back on our feet?
The Woodward light rail project, now under way in Detroit, will give residents better ways to get around and support the city’s business districts at the same time. First discussed by the Detroit Department of Transportation in 2006, the light rail line will run from Detroit’s Hart Plaza to the city limits at Eight Mile … Continued
The suburban campus headquarters, once the pinnacle of corporate America, is on the decline. Two recent pieces from the Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine explain that many companies are choosing to leave their suburban headquarters in favor of walkable downtowns with smart growth features.
“The youth of America, when they graduate, they’re looking to go to an urban environment,” Quicken CEO Bill Emerson explained to Fortune. Explaining that top recruits wanted to be in a place where they could live, work and play, Emerson added, “An asphalt parking lot is not necessarily the best way to do that.”
Features like mass transit, shorter commutes, the option of walking to work and access to restaurants and shops – all key principles of smart growth development – are forming a new model of what America’s most desirable workers want. Rather than trying to lure these workers out to the suburbs, many companies – including corporations like United Airlines, Zappos.com, Credit Suisse AG, Panasonic – are relocating to where young, talented professionals want to live. According to Fortune:
In general, suburban or rural locations are cheaper per square foot, have lower taxes, ample parking, and don’t require higher salaries for employees to feel reasonably compensated. But for companies looking to recruit younger people, all those factors have to be weighed against the reality that there is nothing hip about the ‘burbs.
In many places across the country, land banking is becoming an integral part of community revitalization efforts, especially as America’s cities and towns have struggled to keep ahead of the foreclosure crisis and the resulting economic impacts over the past few years. Today more communities than ever are developing and strengthening land banking efforts to increase affordable housing, create market-based development opportunities, and implement alternative land reuses.
The Center for Community Progress invites elected officials, business owners, developers and anyone else interested in land banking issues to the 2011 Land Bank Conference from June 5-7 in Detroit, MI. The conference will help participants identify how land banking and tax foreclosure strategies can catalyze development of effective solutions to unlocking the value of vacant, abandoned and problem properties. Highlights of this two-day event include training seminars, breakout sessions, bus tours and networking opportunities.
The conference attracts hundreds of professionals from across the country and from diverse backgrounds including: elected officials, land bank staff and board members, for-profit and non-profit developers and the real estate industry, community foundations, greening initiatives, neighborhood and civic leaders, and local and state government officials.
Each week Smart Growth America poses a question to our readers to encourage discussion about smart growth ideas in neighborhoods across America. You can engage in the dialogue by commenting on our Facebook page or through Twitter with @SmartGrowthUSA. If you’re not already a fan or a follower, sign up to participate.
The 2010 US Census data released this week revealed that Detroit, among other cities, lost more residents than initially thought. This week, SGA asks: What can cities like Detroit do to rebuild their local economy?
The New York Times’ Room for Debate debates this issue in depth, with eight experts weighing in on revitalization opportunities presented by increasingly vacant cities across America. Among the points they raise:
- What if the government used a fraction of the billions it spends to subsidize home-building on ‘unbuilding’ projects instead?
- The record of top-down schemes to revive cities by remaking neighborhoods is littered with disastrous unintended consequences.
- The key to restoring a shrinking city’s health is to cut costs of doing business and ensure access to quality education.
- Build vegetable gardens and parks, but also consider tax incentives.
- We need to get over our tendency to throw out damaged goods; instead we need to retrofit them.
Which of the authors do you agree with? Disagree with? What role can abandoned property revitalization play in reviving a city?