Rocket Bomber - article - Links and Thoughts - Links and Thoughts 37: 27 October 2014

Links and Thoughts 37: 27 October 2014

filed under , 27 October 2014, 08:05 by

Oscar Peterson – C Jam Blues

Good Morning.

I’m in a backlog-clearing-mode so this is going to be a much longer link dump carefully curated set of thought-provoking articles. All of these would normally post under the Cities and Citizens tag — urban planning and development being one of my more prominent ‘hobby’ interests.

[No diary entry for this post, but there is a book recommendation this week — somewhere down there, after all the links.]

“Restaurants are the leading force behind reclaimed waterfronts and regenerating neighborhoods, and are a key component of mixed-use development and urban retail. When a part of the city puts itself on the map, it’s often because of a wave of trendy eateries have opened there.”
Restaurants Really Can Determine the Fate of Cities and Neighborhoods, Anthony Flint, 22 July 2014, Citylab []

“But Tennessee is one of 20 states with laws on the books that pose barriers to community broadband efforts—laws that in many cases were pushed by cable and telecom industry lobbyists. Thanks to Tennessee state law, EPB is prohibited from offering internet and video services to any areas outside its service area.
EPB is asking the federal government to use its authority to preempt that state law, so that it can bring its service to the underserved, largely rural areas surrounding Chattanooga. Wilson made a simultaneous filing Thursday. “
Two Cities Asked the FCC to Bypass State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet, Sam Gustin, 24 July 2014, Motherboard []

“Some say that cities are on the rise, and suburbs are declining. I don’t think it is that simple. Rather, the new dream is based on the idea of ‘Place.’ When you go to a community with layers of history, with charm and character, where many people gather, you react emotionally and psychologically. That feeling, which everybody has experienced, is known as ‘sense of place.’ That sense has value. After six or seven decades of sprawl, many people seek it. Whether they get it in a central city, small city, suburb, or small town doesn’t matter.”
Why ‘place’ is the new American dream, Robert Steuteville, 1 Aug 2014, Better Cities & Towns []

“Over the past few years, I’ve read a lot of articles and blog posts proclaiming that cities are back: that millenials want to drive less and live in cities, and that suburbs as we know them may even be dying.
“I agree that many consumers demand more walkable development, both in cities and in suburbs. But even in relatively prosperous, safe cities, the political obstacles to meeting this demand are enormous.”
Mission Accomplished? Not Yet, Michael Lewyn, 5 August 2014, Planetizen []

“Almost all movement in a major city now begins with a phone. Mobile apps and interfaces help people do everything from sort through route options to locate an approaching bus or hail a taxi or for-hire vehicle. While cities and transportation regulators have released data and encouraged innovation through contests and hackathons, no U.S. city has aggressively pursued development of an integrated app that enables users to plan, book, and pay for trips across multiple travel modes. Instead, it’s the likes of Uber and Google Maps and CityMapper and RideScout that have demonstrated what is possible, and controlled the movement market to date.”
The Most Important Transportation Innovation of the Decade Is the Smartphone, Eric Goldwyn, 4 September 2014, Citylab []

“However improbable it might have seemed twenty, five, or even two years ago, Detroit could well be on the verge of a major turnaround that could make it one of the biggest success stories in urban America over the next decade. Yes, that goes against conventional wisdom: The standard narrative for Detroit has been about a bankrupt, vacant, decaying, post-industrial wasteland; an environmental, social and economic disaster. Detroit has been the quintessential ‘shrinking city,’ the poster child for everything that has gone wrong with the post-industrial Midwest.
“(I never did buy the ‘shrinking’ part, by the way. What really happened was a hollowing out, as central-city residents fled for the suburbs. The population of metropolitan Detroit has actually been close to stable over the past few decades due to suburban growth offsetting inner city losses. But there has been a lot of truth to the rest of the story.)”
Is it time to change the narrative about Detroit?, Kaid Benfield, 8 Sep 2014, Better Cities & Towns []

“Former Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut used to like to say that ‘you can’t be a suburb of nowhere.’ This is the oft-repeated notion has been a rallying cry for investments to revitalize downtowns in America for three decades or so now. The idea being that you can’t have a smoking hole in your region where your downtown is supposed to be. This created a mental based on a donut. You can’t let downtown become an empty hole.”

“In this model, the old donut is inverted. What used to be the ring of health – the outer areas of the city and the inner suburban regions – are now struggling. Whereas the downtown is in pretty good shape, and the newer suburban areas are booming.”

“We’ve got three decades of experience in downtown revitalization, but much less in dealing with this newer challenge zone. I’ve said that suburban revitalization may prove to be the big 21st century ‘urban’ challenge. This is where it is happening in many cases. These areas have an inferior housing stock (often small post-war worker cottages or ranches), sometimes poor basic infrastructure, and are sometimes independent municipalities that, like Ferguson, MO, are often overlooked unless something really bad happens. Unlike the major downtown, they are often ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for most regional movers and shakers.”
The New Donut, Aaron M. Renn, 14 September 2014, Urbanophile []

“The transportation futures of these cities will largely be defined by whether these new efforts pan out or fall flat. Before elected officials and transportation authorities in these cities look too far ahead, they might be wise to glance back. During the past 50 years, citizens in Houston, Atlanta, and Los Angeles rejected transit plans only to see elements of those same plans re-emerge in today’s growing systems. By delaying the development of mass transit within their most densely populated corridors, in some cases for decades, all three cities missed opportunities to expand mobility, contributing to many of the problems they face today.”
What Old Transit Maps Can Teach Us About a City’s Future, Kyle Shelton, 10 October 2014, Citylab []

“One of the myths of Detroit is that it’s a frontier town — wide open, and a place where anyone can make a mark. Like a lot of frontiers, though, fences have already been laid, even if you can’t see them. Much of the downtown that is south of Adams Street is owned by Dan Gilbert. Gilbert made his fortune by starting Rock Financial, an internet-based mortgage company. He sold it to Intuit in 1999, at the peak of the first dot-com boom, for $532 million, and then, after the bubble burst, bought it back for $55 million. By then Intuit had renamed it Quicken Loans, which it’s still called today.”

“Walking around downtown during business hours, you get the feeling that someone has assembled a collection of young white men in v-neck sweaters and stylish eyeglasses and scattered them over the urban street grid. That someone would be Dan Gilbert.”
Behind every crumbling downtown is a billionaire who wants to save it, Heather Smith, 7 October 2014, Grist []
via Can Billionaires Revitalize Decayed Downtowns?, Philip Rojc, 17 October 2014, Planetizen []


“These dismissals, which focus on gentrification as culture, ignore that Lee’s was a critique of the racist allocation of resources. Black communities whose complaints about poor schools and city services go unheeded find these complaints are readily addressed when wealthier, whiter people move in. Meanwhile, long-time locals are treated as contagions on the landscape, targeted by police for annoying the new arrivals.
“Gentrifiers focus on aesthetics, not people. Because people, to them, are aesthetics.
“Proponents of gentrification will vouch for its benevolence by noting it “cleaned up the neighbourhood”. This is often code for a literal white-washing. The problems that existed in the neighbourhood – poverty, lack of opportunity, struggling populations denied city services – did not go away. They were simply priced out to a new location.”
The peril of hipster economics, Sarah Kendzior, 28 May 2014, Aljazeera America []

“Urban scholars rail against the process of gentrification and its destruction of working-class communities. We read about the waves of gentrifiers and the kinds of cafes, boutiques and new amenities that they bring. We express worry to our peers that the city is going to become a bastion of elitism or a generic suburb stripped of diversity. Often, we treat gentrification as a contemporary form of urban class and racial warfare (Smith, 1996). As urbanists, however, we increasingly notice an elephant sitting in the academic corner: many (dare we say most — ‘mainstream’ and critical) urbanists are gentrifiers themselves. As Brown-Saracino (2010: 356) suggests, ‘many of us have firsthand experience with gentrification’. But what difference has this made on our research? Very little. We have created an artificial distance in our analysis because we do not examine our own relationship to the data.”
A Gentrifier? Who, Me?, Aaron M. Renn, 24 July 2014, Urbanophile []

“[T]he billion dollar question for economic developers and planning agencies throughout the United States: is urban revitalization of neighborhoods possible without the subsequent gentrification and displacement of current residents?
“Jared Green asks this important question in a recent post on the American Society of Landscape Architect’s blog, The Dirt. The most recent wave of “urban revitalization” that began in the 1990s to increase wealth in cities is noted by supporters as benefiting everyone, while critics are increasingly calling these initiatives gentrification.”
Is Urban Revitalization Possible Without Displacement and Gentrification?, Maayan Dembo, 18 October 2014, Planetizen []

Atlanta – for better or for worse, my home town:

“However, despite some areas being ripe for development, much of the growth around the airport has been piecemeal, failing to leverage the airport as an economic engine, or to seamlessly connect to the airport or welcome visitors to a world-class city and region. Local residents and workers desperately seek a higher quality of life, better access to transportation options and more livable communities. Complicating the area’s development is the fact that three counties and several municipalities including Atlanta, Hapeville, College Park, East Point and Forest Park all have strong, and often competing, interests in regard to airport-area growth.”
Atlanta’s untapped potential for creating a thriving aerotropolis, Garrett Hyer, 16 July 2014, Better Cities & Towns []

“‘People have been looking at these parking lots for decades wondering why they were just sitting there,’ says Amanda Rhein, senior director of transit-oriented development at MARTA. ‘It’s clear there’s a significant amount of in-town resurgence, based on the development that’s happening here, and the majority of it is within close proximity of our stations. So this is really just MARTA finally participating in that activity.’”
The Atlanta Transit Agency’s Big Plan to Convert Parking Lots into Housing, Eric Jaffe, 21 July 2014, Citylab []

“The highly-anticipated plan to turn Bellwood Quarry into Westside Reservoir Park, a proposed 350-acre greenspace in northwest Atlanta, has been in the works for the past eight years. Once it’s built – whenever that happens – it’s envisioned to include a 45-acre reservoir, fields for activities, and a clear view of Atlanta’s skyline. And one city councilman wants to add another amenity to that list: a new civic center.
“Earlier this week, Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond introduced a resolution asking Mayor Kasim Reed to consider replacing the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, the 47-year-old city-owned arts and entertainment venue in Old Fourth Ward that’s likely to be sold and redeveloped, with a new facility adjacent to Bellwood Quarry.”
Should Atlanta’s next civic center be built near Bellwood Quarry?, Max Blau, 24 July 2014, Creative Loafing []


Today’s Book Recommendation comes to us via a blurb at Better Cities & Towns:

“We drew inspiration from places as diverse as Detroit, Baroda, Marquette, Flint, Grand Rapids and Traverse City in an effort to chronicle the amazing work that is already underway and provide a blueprint for others moving forward. We believe that the book is equally important for those outside of Michigan as it is for those who reside in the Great Lakes State.”

Economics of Place: The Art of Building Great Communities, from the Michigan Municipal League, 20 September 2014, paperback, isbn 9781929923007

From the publisher’s website:
“This book goes beyond placemaking as a concept, to offer real-world examples of economic drivers and agents of social and cultural change in Michigan’s own backyard. They represent some of the many place-based catalysts that can spark the kind of transformational changes that reinvent and revitalize a community, with tangible payoffs in terms of livability, social and cultural enrichment, and economic development. But most of all, they show us that placemaking is an art not a science, and displays itself in as many shapes, sizes and colors as a community can imagine.”

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