From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in GoLocal24.com
Tom Condon wrote a nice piece for The Connecticut Mirror on how to do and not do “urban renewal’’ with a focus, of course, on the Nutmeg State. A few particularly important things: Don’t tear up and/or divide city neighborhoods with huge limited-access highways, and try to avoid replacing structurally sound and attractive old buildings with sterile glass and steel structures.
When I lived near New Haven in the early and mid ’60s I remember how arrogant “urban renewal’’ tore apart that city. Without the presence of very rich Yale University as a moderating force, the well-meaning renewers, especially then Mayor Richard Lee and city development director Edward Logue, would have done even more damage to downtown New Haven. The repair work has been underway now for a generation, and the place looks much better.
Mr. Condon’s cites a new book by former New York City planner and Yale Prof. Alexander Garvin called In The Heart of the City. As explanation for the turnaround in some cities in recent years, he cites crime reduction, the creation of Business Improvement Districts to clean and promote downtowns (Providence has one) and the rise of the Internet, which has let companies sharply reduce the space they need for storage of documents. This has freed up a lot of space in buildings – space that can be converted to housing, this increasing population density downtown, which has provided more customers for local businesses and reduced crime (more eyes on the street), in a kind of virtuous circle.
To read Mr. Condon’s article, please hit this link.