Urban Revitalization Continues Amid Recession

These days good news can be hard to come by, which is why Kaid Benfield’s most recent post on NRDC Switchboard caught our eye. It’s about the Old North neighborhood of St. Louis, and how revitalization efforts there have taken off:

3419058130_159bf6ab82.jpgA former kindergarten in the Old North neighborhood of St. Louis that’s being renovated for housing. Photo by Michael Allen.

As I wrote last year, [the neighborhood] is being brought back in a thoughtful, inclusive, diverse, grassrootsy sort of way, but with some terrific organizational support from the Old North Restoration Group and financial investment from the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance, among a bevy of supporters.

My own view is that no other single category of activity is more important to sustainable development than revitalization.  When done properly, it’s great for residents old and new, great for cities, and great for the environment.

The Restoration Group posted a bunch of updates and links on its blog a few days ago.  It’s terrific to learn that the Crown Square project is continuing, for example, along with many neighborhood rehabs, despite the recession.

Over at Gristmill, Kate Sheppard writes about how an even more devastated municipality — the steel town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, immortalized back in the late 1980s in the film Lightning over Braddock — is now the focus of a new ad campaign for green jobs. The campaign, called The Cap Solution, brings together the Environmental Defense Action Fund, the United Steelworkers and the Blue Green Alliance to promote carbon cap legislation as a solution to unemployment and municipal decline in America’s Rust Belt.

Anyone out there have other examples of blighted urban (or suburban) areas that are seeking new avenues to revitalization? Any success stories?

  • Thanks so much for the mention, Sarah. Another neighbohood I’m learning good things about is Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine. I’ll be running a post about it next week on my site.

    Keep up your great work.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

The Millennials Take St. Louis

|
That young people are moving to cities is well established by now, but in some cities, it’s more true than others. One question that lingers is whether some American cities will be left behind. There’s encouraging news on that front out of the industrial Midwest today. Alex Ihnen at NextSTL has crunched the numbers, and […]

The “Urban Renewal Mindset” Persists in St. Louis

|
St. Louis is home to one of the more notorious failures of the “urban renewal” era: the Pruitt-Igoe housing project. When these towers were demolished a generation ago, it seemed like the end of an era in city planning. The clearance of city blocks to make way for mega-development projects is now considered a colossal […]

Bringing Farms to the Heartland — of Suburbia

|
Today on the Streetsblog Network, St. Louis Urban Workshop looks at the concept of "agriburbia" — a way to bring some meaningful food production to suburban sprawl: In St. Louis, some farming goes on right next to the airport. [It’s] basically the integration of agri-business and suburban development. The idea is introduced in three ways: […]

Should Cities Try to Keep Out Big Chains?

|
Chain stores. Some community activists and urbanists hate them because they can muscle out local businesses that give a neighborhood character (the excellent film Twilight Becomes Night documents this painful loss in New York City). But clearly a lot of people vote with their pocketbooks by spending money in chains. And the question of the […]