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10 Ways to Regenerate America’s Legacy Cities
by Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman

Urban renaissance has touched many citie...
10 Ways to Regenerate America’s Legacy Cities
by Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman

The truth is the silver-bullet syndrome ...
Five Ways to Regenerate America’s Legacy Cities
1. Have faith in
downtowns
• A central core with
density, a walkable,
urba...
2. Sustain viable
neighborhoods
• Build partnerships with
neighborhood associations
and CDCs to implement
multifaceted
nei...
3. Don’t be afraid to
demolish
• Repurposing large
inventories of vacant land
strategically is a major
springboard for cha...
4. Reinvent the economic
base
• Not every city can become
the next bio-tech capital
• Honest assessment of local
assets an...
5. Make sure all city
residents benefit
from change
• Engaging residents,
and providing the
educational and
workforce
deve...
6. Use economic
growth to increase
community and
resident well-being
• Build on the city’s human
capital by increasing
edu...
7. Build stronger local
governance and
partnerships
• Centralized leadership,
such as with a strong
mayor, is not the only...
8. Build stronger ties between
legacy cities and their regions
•

•

•
•

Consider rebalancing the
relationship between th...
9. Make change happen
through strategic
incrementalism
•
•

•

•
•

Avoid grandiose proposals that
fly in the face of what...
10. Rethink state and federal
policy toward legacy cities
• State and federal
policies should not
favor suburban over
urba...
America’s legacy cities
were once the great
economic engines of this
country. The right mixture
of new forms and
direction...
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Regenerating America's Legacy Cities

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Regenerating America's Legacy Cities

  1. 1. 10 Ways to Regenerate America’s Legacy Cities by Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman Urban renaissance has touched many cities across America in the last two decades, but there are many others – typically what we call “legacy cities” that are still trying to find their footing a generation or two after experiencing drastic manufacturing loss and population decline. These 18 cities are: -Akron, OH -Baltimore, MD -Buffalo, NY -Camden, NJ -Canton, OH -Cincinnati, OH -Dayton, OH -Detroit, MI -Flint, MI -Milwaukee, WI -Pittsburgh, PA -Cleveland, OH -Youngstown, Ohio -Newark, NJ -Philadelphia, PA -Birmingham, AL -St. Louis, MO -Syracuse, NY www.lincolninst.edu www.lincwwww.lioolninst.edu www.lincolninst.edu
  2. 2. 10 Ways to Regenerate America’s Legacy Cities by Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman The truth is the silver-bullet syndrome can inhibit revitalization. A mega-project can become an important asset, yet it is not a strategy for change in itself, unless it is integrated into larger schemes to make a meaningful contribution to the city’s future. Also, it is usually a very costly undertaking that these cities can ill afford. What’s needed: a more incremental approach built on collaboration and partnerships, combined with a fresh appreciation of existing assets. www.lincolninst.edu www.lincwwww.lioolninst.edu www.lincolninst.edu
  3. 3. Five Ways to Regenerate America’s Legacy Cities 1. Have faith in downtowns • A central core with density, a walkable, urban texture and proximity to major institutions and employers, is a powerful attraction for young single people and couples, and a strong basis for residential redevelopment • Set a friendly regulatory environment for infill redevelopment, reinvent public spaces, and encourage private market re-use of older buildings www.lincolninst.edu
  4. 4. 2. Sustain viable neighborhoods • Build partnerships with neighborhood associations and CDCs to implement multifaceted neighborhood strategies that draw demand, rebuild housing markets and address destabilizing elements such as crime, foreclosure, and property abandonment www.lincolninst.edu
  5. 5. 3. Don’t be afraid to demolish • Repurposing large inventories of vacant land strategically is a major springboard for change in heavily disinvested areas • Cities should explore large-scale reconfiguration of land uses, including the use of vacant land properties for public open space, urban agriculture, or storm water management www.lincolninst.edu
  6. 6. 4. Reinvent the economic base • Not every city can become the next bio-tech capital • Honest assessment of local assets and regional competitive advantages can help build new exportoriented economies • Partner with local educational institutions and major employers like hospitals – “eds and meds” – to build workforce development and a competitive regional labor market www.lincolninst.edu
  7. 7. 5. Make sure all city residents benefit from change • Engaging residents, and providing the educational and workforce development systems they need to become competitive, can build a stronger city for everyone www.lincolninst.edu
  8. 8. 6. Use economic growth to increase community and resident well-being • Build on the city’s human capital by increasing education • Adding city residents to the labor market will demand greater regional employment strategies, which in turn creates more job growth in the city www.lincolninst.edu
  9. 9. 7. Build stronger local governance and partnerships • Centralized leadership, such as with a strong mayor, is not the only answer • Look to other institutions, such as nonprofit sectors (eds or meds) • Forge public-private partnerships www.lincolninst.edu
  10. 10. 8. Build stronger ties between legacy cities and their regions • • • • Consider rebalancing the relationship between the city and its region, perhaps through new forms of governance This has the potential to reduce costs and leverage funds for strategic investments It also encourages jurisdictions to bolster the wider economy And it can level the playing field and incentivize policy makers www.lincolninst.edu
  11. 11. 9. Make change happen through strategic incrementalism • • • • • Avoid grandiose proposals that fly in the face of what’s possible Meld long-term strategic vision with incremental process for change Don’t get stuck on creating a formal plan, which could be a diversion or impediment Explore multiple, flexible processes Over time, incremental improvements can become transformational www.lincolninst.edu
  12. 12. 10. Rethink state and federal policy toward legacy cities • State and federal policies should not favor suburban over urban or one-size fits all programs that can hinder revitalization • All levels of government must rethink how they address these cities www.lincolninst.edu
  13. 13. America’s legacy cities were once the great economic engines of this country. The right mixture of new forms and directions, fueled by their powerful assets and historic can-do culture of achievement, can provide the springboard for a new era of prosperity. All photos courtesy of iStock. www.lincolninst.edu

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