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robertogreco : redevelopment   25

San Francisco; or, How to Destroy a City | Public Books
"As New York City and Greater Washington, DC, prepared for the arrival of Amazon’s new secondary headquarters, Torontonians opened a section of their waterfront to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, which plans to prototype a new neighborhood “from the internet up.” Fervent resistance arose in all three locations, particularly as citizens and even some elected officials discovered that many of the terms of these public-private partnerships were hashed out in closed-door deals, secreted by nondisclosure agreements. Critics raised questions about the generous tax incentives and other subsidies granted to these multibillion-dollar corporations, their plans for data privacy and digital governance, what kind of jobs they’d create and housing they’d provide, and how their arrival could impact local infrastructures, economies, and cultures. While such questioning led Amazon to cancel their plans for Long Island City in mid-February, other initiatives press forward. What does it mean when Silicon Valley—a geographic region that’s become shorthand for an integrated ideology and management style usually equated with libertarian techno-utopianism—serves as landlord, utility provider, urban developer, (unelected) city official, and employer, all rolled into one?1

We can look to Alphabet’s and Amazon’s home cities for clues. Both the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have been dramatically remade by their local tech powerhouses: Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle; and Google, Facebook, and Apple (along with countless other firms) around the Bay. As Jennifer Light, Louise Mozingo, Margaret O’Mara, and Fred Turner have demonstrated, technology companies have been reprogramming urban and suburban landscapes for decades.2 And “company towns” have long sprung up around mills, mines, and factories.3 But over the past few years, as development has boomed and income inequality has dramatically increased in the Bay Area, we’ve witnessed the arrival of several new books reflecting on the region’s transformation.

These titles, while focusing on the Bay, offer lessons to New York, DC, Toronto, and the countless other cities around the globe hoping to spur growth and economic development by hosting and ingesting tech—by fostering the growth of technology companies, boosting STEM education, and integrating new sensors and screens into their streetscapes and city halls. For years, other municipalities, fashioning themselves as “the Silicon Valley of [elsewhere],” have sought to reverse-engineer the Bay’s blueprint for success. As we’ll see, that blueprint, drafted to optimize the habits and habitats of a privileged few, commonly elides the material needs of marginalized populations and fragile ecosystems. It prioritizes efficiency and growth over the maintenance of community and the messiness of public life. Yet perhaps we can still redraw those plans, modeling cities that aren’t only made by powerbrokers, and that thrive when they prioritize the stewardship of civic resources over the relentless pursuit of innovation and growth."



"We must also recognize the ferment and diversity inherent in Bay Area urban historiography, even in the chronicles of its large-scale development projects. Isenberg reminds us that even within the institutions and companies responsible for redevelopment, which are often vilified for exacerbating urban ills, we find pockets of heterogeneity and progressivism. Isenberg seeks to supplement the dominant East Coast narratives, which tend to frame urban renewal as a battle between development and preservation.

In surveying a variety of Bay Area projects, from Ghirardelli Square to The Sea Ranch to the Transamerica Pyramid, Isenberg shifts our attention from star architects and planners to less prominent, but no less important, contributors in allied design fields: architectural illustration, model-making, publicity, journalism, property management, retail planning, the arts, and activism. “People who are elsewhere peripheral and invisible in the history of urban design are,” in her book, “networked through the center”; they play critical roles in shaping not only the urban landscape, but also the discourses and processes through which that landscape takes shape.

For instance, debates over public art in Ghirardelli Square—particularly Ruth Asawa’s mermaid sculpture, which featured breastfeeding lesbian mermaids—“provoked debates about gender, sexuality, and the role of urban open space in San Francisco.” Property manager Caree Rose, who worked alongside her husband, Stuart, coordinated with designers to master-plan the Square, acknowledging that retail, restaurants, and parking are also vital ingredients of successful public space. Publicist Marion Conrad and graphic designer Bobbie Stauffacher were key members of many San Francisco design teams, including that for The Sea Ranch community, in Sonoma County. Illustrators and model-makers, many of them women, created objects that mediated design concepts for clients and typically sat at the center of public debates.

These creative collaborators “had the capacity to swing urban design decisions, structure competition for land, and generally set in motion the fate of neighborhoods.” We see the rhetorical power of diverse visualization strategies reflected across these four books, too: Solnit’s offers dozens of photographs, by Susan Schwartzenberg—of renovations, construction sites, protests, dot-com workplaces, SRO hotels, artists’ studios—while Walker’s dense text is supplemented with charts, graphs, and clinical maps. McClelland’s book, with its relatively large typeface and extra-wide leading, makes space for his interviewees’ words to resonate, while Isenberg generously illustrates her pages with archival photos, plans, and design renderings, many reproduced in evocative technicolor.

By decentering the star designer and master planner, Isenberg reframes urban (re)development as a collaborative enterprise involving participants with diverse identities, skills, and values. And in elevating the work of “allied” practitioners, Isenberg also aims to shift the focus from design to land: public awareness of land ownership and commitment to responsible public land stewardship. She introduces us to several mid-century alternative publications—weekly newspapers, Black periodicals, activists’ manuals, and books that never made it to the best-seller list … or never even made it to press—that advocated for a focus on land ownership and politics. Yet the discursive power of Jacobs and Caro, which framed the debate in terms of urban development vs. preservation, pushed these other texts off the shelf—and, along with them, the “moral questions of land stewardship” they highlighted.

These alternative tales and supporting casts serve as reminders that the modern city need not succumb to Haussmannization or Moses-ification or, now, Googlization. Mid-century urban development wasn’t necessarily the monolithic, patriarchal, hegemonic force we imagined it to be—a realization that should steel us to expect more and better of our contemporary city-building projects. Today, New York, Washington, DC, and Toronto—and other cities around the world—are being reshaped not only by architects, planners, and municipal administrators, but also by technologists, programmers, data scientists, “user experience” experts and logistics engineers. These are urbanism’s new “allied” professions, and their work deals not only with land and buildings, but also, increasingly, with data and algorithms.

Some critics have argued that the real reason behind Amazon’s nationwide HQ2 search was to gather data from hundreds of cities—both quantitative and qualitative data that “could guide it in its expansion of the physical footprint, in the kinds of services it rolls out next, and in future negotiations and lobbying with states and municipalities.”5 This “trove of information” could ultimately be much more valuable than all those tax incentives and grants. If this is the future of urban development, our city officials and citizens must attend to the ownership and stewardship not only of their public land, but also of their public data. The mismanagement of either could—to paraphrase our four books’ titles—elongate the dark shadows cast by growing inequality, abet the siege of exploitation and displacement, “hollow out” our already homogenizing neighborhoods, and expedite the departure of an already “gone” city.

As Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti muses in his “Pictures of the Gone World 11,” which inspired Walker’s title: “The world is a beautiful place / to be born into / if you don’t mind some people dying / all the time / or maybe only starving / some of the time / which isn’t half so bad / if it isn’t you.” This is precisely the sort of solipsism and stratification that tech-libertarianism and capitalist development promotes—and that responsible planning, design, and public stewardship must prevent."
cities  shannonmattern  2019  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  washingtondc  seattle  amazon  google  apple  facebook  technology  inequality  governance  libertarianism  urban  urbanism  microsoft  jenniferlight  louisemozingo  margareto'mara  fredturner  efficiency  growth  marginalization  publicgood  civics  innovation  rebeccasolnit  gentrification  privatization  homogenization  susanschwartzenberg  carymcclelland  economics  policy  politics  richardwalker  bayarea  lisonisenberg  janejacobs  robertmoses  diversity  society  inclusivity  inclusion  exclusion  counterculture  cybercultue  culture  progressive  progressivism  wealth  corporatism  labor  alexkaufman  imperialism  colonization  californianideology  california  neoliberalism  privacy  technosolutionism  urbanization  socialjustice  environment  history  historiography  redevelopment  urbanplanning  design  activism  landscape  ruthasawa  gender  sexuality  openspace  publicspace  searanch  toronto  larenceferlinghetti  susanschartzenberg  bobbiestauffacher  careerose  stuartrose  ghirardellisqure  marionconrad  illustration  a 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Place Lab
"A catalyst for mindful urban transformation and creative redevelopment for equitable and livable cities.

Place Lab is a team of professionals from the diverse fields of law, urban planning, architecture, design, social work, arts administration, and gender and cultural studies. The think tank is a partnership between Arts + Public Life, an initiative of UChicago Arts, and the Harris School of Public Policy. Led by renowned artist and University of Chicago faculty member Theaster Gates, this joint enterprise merges Chicago Harris’ Cultural Policy Center’s commitment to cultural policy and evidence-based analysis with Place Lab’s work at Arts + Public Life on arts- and culture-led neighborhood transformation.

Over the course of three years, the team works to document and demonstrate urban ethical redevelopment strategies initiated through arts and culture. Place Lab is based in Chicago, extending much of the team’s project management, design, programming, real estate, community building, and documentation acumen towards advancing arts and culture place-based projects on the mid-South Side of Chicago.

Place Lab observes the spaces that Gates reimagines, supports their programmatic activation, captures methods, and shares findings with the partnering demonstration cities of Gary, Akron, Detroit, and other Knight Communities. This work situates artists and creatives in conversations about the urban context. To effectuate policy change, Place Lab amplifies artistic innovators as civic leaders. In order for cities to develop in mindful and equitable ways, artists must be integrated into shaping neighborhoods and public spaces."
placelab  chicago  theastergates  urban  urbanism  architecture  urbanplanning  socialwork  art  arts  culture  cities  redevelopment  gary  detroit  akron  ohio  michigan  indiana 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Neverending Hunt for Affordable Housing Funds
"Q: One of the big criticisms that comes up in any discussion of affordable housing is that it costs too much to build. How do you handle that argument?

A: We build things like four-bedroom apartments. Three bedrooms, you’ll find in upscale new developments that that are high- to mid-market, truly market rate. Here, the market would never produce them. So, we’re building things that the market doesn’t do and doesn’t do for a reason.

Housing traditionally does not serve all classes. When you go back in history, what you typically have is tenements. You have naturally affordable housing that is obsolete or substandard and therefore not commanding a market price. It’s cheap because it’s not the most desirable. And so that’s how, in most of human history, the poorest people have lived in undignified conditions. Our goal as an organization is to try to provide dignified, safe housing for all members of society.

Q: What about for-profit developers who say, “Just make it easier for us to build market-rate housing, just increase the supply and then there’s … ”

A: The trickle down? There’s some truth in that. If you want to talk mega economics and go back to [urbanist and activist] Jane Jacobs , she will talk about diversity as being desirable and one of the diversities is diversity of [housing] tenure — the types, sizes, whether people rent or own. Diversity of age is valuable because … in an ideal world, you’re constantly providing almost enough housing so that there is always stuff falling into lowercase-a “affordability” — hopefully it’s not too obsolete and not too degraded.

But we have these incredible housing cycles of boom and bust, so we have big gaps in when housing is aging. There hasn’t been enough housing produced here. I think you’d have to go back to maybe the ‘60s to find a time when enough housing was being produced. … So that’s that boom-and-bust cycle and suddenly nothing older’s coming on the market and suddenly, boom, everything is aged out to 30 years. If we could smooth out the cycles, that would certainly help.

But the core issue: Is just gross supply part of the formula? And the answer is yes, of course. But can we build our way out of it? There’s some builders who are sitting on subdivisions because they know they can make more money releasing it in tranches over time. They have 10, 20, 30-year business plans. Are there people saying, “Release us to build and we shall build,” who actually have land they could build on? There are some of those, yes. Is it too difficult to build? It can be.

Q: But then you have communities that absolutely don’t want you to add another unit of housing.

A: The question of density is key. From an environmental standpoint, we know that the “City of Villages” is essentially a climate action plan, if you will, of transit-oriented development, really focusing on transit and putting the density in the right place where people can live rich, fulfilled lives within a narrow walking radius.

We’re going to have to work to see that enough multifamily land is zoned. Look at where we are right now. This zoning doesn’t exist everywhere in the city. We couldn’t do this and just replicate it down the street. The issue of density is, one, we have to get more multifamily zoning. In every community plan update we do, we have to look at where it makes sense. And then we have to show how it improves quality of life and I think we’re starting to get more examples.

When [Metro Villas] was being built, there was a lot of community opposition, “We don’t want more affordable housing.” Well, now we hear, “We want to see more things like this.” It’s the high point of the neighborhood. We have marvelous, beautiful examples of affordable housing being the finest housing in the community.

Similarly with density, people are screaming to get into North Park, they’re screaming to get into Little Italy. We simply have to do a better job of demonstrating the quality of life benefits and actually funding improvements to the public realm that make it so that it is more desirable … so that it has a vibrancy as opposed to a crowdedness. Is it crowded or is it vibrant? It really depends on all of these other environmental cues and how did they get there? Are you sitting next to cars and parking or are you in a plaza? All these different kinds of elements come together."

[See also: http://cityheightsinitiative.org/historic-projects/metro-center/ and
http://www.sandiego.gov/redevelopment-agency/pdf/affhousing/fsmetrovillas.pdf ]
sandiego  housing  2015  stephenrussell  affordablehousing  funding  redevelopment  cityheights  density  metrovilla  landuse  class 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Chicago artist Theaster Gates: 'I’m hoping Swiss bankers will bail out my flooded South Side bank in the name of art' | Art and design | The Guardian
"When artist Theaster Gates transformed a house on Chicago’s derelict South Side into an artwork open to the community, it was just the beginning. Meet the ‘poster boy for socially engaged art’"



"Over the seven years since, Gates has used the same principle – buying and stripping out properties in his neighbourhood, a mile or two south of the university but a different world entirely, remaking some of the scrap as art, selling it, and buying more property to create community spaces and houses for local artists and others. In 2011 he made a series of beautiful textured canvases covered in spectrums or coils of reclaimed fire hoses, called them In the Event of a Race Riot. One set recently sold at Christie’s for £250,000. Always channelling the money back into the “Dorchester Projects”, he is inexorably remodelling his entire neighbourhood which had previously been hollowed out for two or three decades by poverty and crime. Gates now employs and houses 60 “artists and makers”, and his practice is expanding to other cities in the American rust belt – St Louis, Missouri; Akron, Ohio; Gary, Indiana. His ambition is growing too. Two years ago he saved from demolition a bank building, with classical portico and marble interior, the last civic building standing on Stony Island Avenue, the main drag two blocks from his home. The bank was flooded out and long-abandoned. Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s mayor, and Gates’s most reliable patron, sold it to him for a dollar, on the basis that the artist would raise the money to renovate it. To this end Gates has created bonds from the marble tiles of the bank’s former urinals – readymades, indeed – inscribed, “In art we trust”. He has sold 100 of them for $5,000 each to get the renovation started. In the kind of neat reversal he lives for, he plans to sell more of his urinal bonds to collectors at the forthcoming Basel art fair. “I’m hoping Swiss bankers will bail out my flooded South Side bank in the name of art,” he says, with a broad grin.

Gates is telling me some of this in the self-renovated shell of a corner house in which he lives alone, on Dorchester Avenue, over the road from the Listening Room (the ground floor is another venue, the Black Cinema House). He is an energising presence, precise in his movements, comfortable in his skin. In conversation he slides easily between registers, from knowing bursts of street slang to situationist theory – references to “French cats like Guy Debord” – always thoughtful but never quite in earnest. His voice is rich in cadence; occasionally he will burst into song. When I ask him about The Wire at one point, he suggests he is more of a Downton Abbey obsessive. If he were a superhero, he intones in a sudden surprising tenor, he would be the Unknown Craftsman, “You know! Mask and cape, making anony-mous artistic inter-ventions, chang-ing the cit-y for-eeever.”

Gates is 41. This week he has new work – painting and pottery – filling the hangar-like White Cube gallery in Bermondsey in south London. He is planning another large-scale show at the Venice Biennale, which may include his playful Zen-gospel band, the Black Monks of Mississippi, among other things (at 13, Gates was director of his church’s gospel youth choir). Earlier this year he was awarded the prestigious Artes Mundi prize in Cardiff and shared the £40,000 with his fellow nominees."



"He takes me to his latest project, a three-acre site with a disused power station at its centre. He has piled up all the limestone from a church that was pulled down by a developer. “It will be a green space with a large sculptural work running through it,” he says. “We call it the monastery. These materials were around and we could get them. We will find out what works here.”

Is there no real limit to the scale of his projects?

“That’s the thing. I mean it feels like a philosophy more than a commitment to a set of things. And philosophy can exist at any scale.”

What if people here feel it is not for them?

“Well, every day we are in conversation with our neighbours. Some people are excited about it, others are maybe just glad something is happening to all the waste land. And others just assume I am a front for some corporation.”

Gates’s studio and workshop is in a disused Anheuser-Busch distribution plant that he restored with his team of makers. There is a wood shop and a metal shop. He recently did a deal for the entire contents of a hardware store that was closing down – the old cabinets full of tools and nails and drill bits line the walls. (“When my guys saw all this stuff they got real horny.”) One warehouse space houses some of his major works, some firehose pieces, his remade scrap-wood market carts and trolleys, everything carefully thought out, honestly built, including the room itself. “I have three great wood guys on my team. They are incredibly sensitive in the way they handle materials,” Gates says. “They don’t like making things that are half-assed.”

Walking round the workshop, with its emphasis on the handmade – its implicit refusal of the new digital world order – it feels like a very modern medieval guild. Like something William Morris would have approved of. Does Gates see it in those terms?

“I think, as William Morris realised, as new power structures emerged, some things were being lost for ever. I am into that. I’d rather have a communal cinematheque than Netflix, so I’ll make one. The people I work with, they love each other now. They are like family. All of the scales are exciting for me, from wanting to make a pot to getting 60 people to make something well. It’s the same feeling. We believe in the things we make.”"

[See also: “Nuts, bolts and art: the man who turned a hardware store into hard cash: Theaster Gates wants to make the world a better place, so he transforms everyday objects – from old basketball courts to the entire contents of the shop he just bought – into art to raise funds for his community projects in rundown Chicago”
http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/apr/28/theaster-gates-freedom-of-assembly-white-cube-london-review ]
theastergates  art  redevelopment  socialpracticeart  2015  chicago 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Theaster Gates: How to revive a neighborhood: with imagination, beauty and art | Talk Video | TED.com
"Theaster Gates, a potter by training and a social activist by calling, wanted to do something about the sorry state of his neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. So he did, transforming abandoned buildings to create community hubs that connect and inspire those who still live there (and draw in those who don't). In this passionate talk, Gates describes his efforts to build a "miniature Versailles" in Chicago, and he shares his fervent belief that culture can be a catalyst for social transformation in any city, anywhere."
theastergates  chicago  community  housing  reclamation  redevelopment  art  ceramics  2015  urban  urbanism  cities  socialactivism  activism 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Wandering The City Heights Data Desert | KPBS
"For a foundation that's made such a public commitment to turn City Heights around, you'd expect its president to come to an interview armed with statistics that trumpet the group's accomplishments in the community. That didn't happen with Robert Price of Price Philanthropies.

"We haven't focused so much on statistics," he said. "We're more about doing. We feel that if we're doing enough good things here, a lot of it will stick and help people."

Price Philanthropies has transformed the physical and nonprofit landscapes of City Heights, developing more than 50 acres with affordable housing, a police station and library. It's spent about $100 million on resident leadership programs during the past decade."

[See also: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2014/nov/18/san-diegos-richest-poor-neighborhood-two-decades-l/
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:d05290a9d991 ]

[Cross-posted to:
http://voiceofsandiego.org/2014/11/20/wandering-the-city-heights-data-desert/ and
http://www.speakcityheights.org/2014/11/wandering-the-city-heights-data-desert/ ]

[See too the comments here and on the same cross-posted at VOSD. Ignore the immigrant hater “California Defender” and consider the following:

Ann Martin: "The lack of a measurable impact of all the dollars invested demonstrates that concentrating socially and economically disadvantaged people in one area does not provide a benefit to them. This "urban apartheid" contributes to the problem. If the City mandated that affordable housing units will be built as a percentage of every new development (actually built, not pay to get out of it), people in the situation that the folks in City Heights are in can then live everywhere throughout the City. They would have access to the same high performing schools, live in areas with lower crime rates, more parks and other amenities, be closer to better jobs, and be able to escape the cycle of poverty and despair that permeates the disadvantaged areas of the city."

Matt Wattkins: "Strikes me that any organization seeking to do good things in a beleaguered community has to straddle a line: how to make things better for residents while still keeping it affordable to live here. (I am a City Heights home owner/resident.) City Heights is within walking distance of North Park and Kensington and Normal Heights. Those neighborhoods are among the most desirable neighborhoods south of the 8. (I'd argue there are no more desirable neighborhoods anywhere in San Diego county; Normal Heights is easily the most walkable neighborhood in the city.) Those neighborhoods have also gentrified relatively recently, so it doesn't take much imagination to see that process encroaching east of the 805 and south of Meade. White collar families like my own are already buying into City Heights because property values are relatively reasonable (my house located a mile west of its current location would cost 2-3 times what I paid), and it has walkable amenities and fairly quick access to Adams Ave. and 30th St., i.e. a 10 minute bike ride. I mean, if a Trader Joe's had gone into the Albertsons spot instead of El Super, I think affordable housing in our community would have been doomed within a decade. (And it's not terribly affordable now; rent for a stand-alone house with 2 or more bedrooms runs $1500+/month.)

Anyway, neither the article nor the study mention quality of life improvements to the neighborhood; the Urban Village complex is always in use. Our library is open longer hours than most libraries in the city; our Starbucks is bustling; the playground is teeming with kids; the rec center and swimming pool offer great classes; every evening (it seems) there are soccer or baseball games on the playing fields, and local youth swarm the walkway doing tricks on skateboards and BMX bikes. We have a brand new YMCA going in on El Cajon; a couple of walk-in health clinics, pretty good transit access, some really great city parks (Azalea Garden, Hollywood) and a lot of potential in our canyon spaces, with teams of folks currently doing monthly maintenance in Olivia, Swan, and Manzanita Canyons. Most of these things are directly or indirectly a result of philanthropic dollars in our community. It's hard to quantify their impact, but similarly hard to argue that they don't improve the quality of residents' lives."

Chris Brewster: "Interesting to note that on Price Charities’ tax forms (apparently a different but related organization) the highest paid executive is Sherry Bahrambeygui. According to these forms her reportable compensation from related organizations was approximately: $1.8 million in 2010; $3.79 million in 2011 (plus $60k in other compensation); and $7.9 million in 2012 (plus $56k in other compensation). Rather astounding actually, but perhaps there is a back story?"

Dan Beeman: "adly the wealthy are manipulating the "public" system. Here we see two large conflict of interests, by two different media companies that are not asking the hard questions. This will continue to happen until we get the rich out of the media business, and trying to control community/public by their wealth. Remember they are not dumping all this money in without getting tax credit and/or write offs, it is not about being altruistic, but generally about getting their way by paying out some tax credit donations while were caught up with the long time bills. Here it was first the tenants of the housing, and businesses along 44th St/Fairmount area. We the City constituents and taxpayers are still paying off the Redevelopment loans, loan financing and insurance, plus other costs. Also the private landholders lost lots of land that is now off the tax rolls because they are either non-profits and/or government owned.



You see the report didn't say anything about the cost of living increases in the area/community. It also didn't mention the costs of the new schools, redevelopment loans, or other government funding put into the area. It didn't tell about what businesses failed or moved: ie tortilla store, 2 auto dealerships, the old Albertsons, etc. The new national franchise stores pay higher rent, increasing the market rate commercial rent in the area, as well as adding lots of other new commercial spaces that do the same! These higher rental rates, and astronomical new property values kill small businesses while also hurting families. The national franchises bring a few new management positions, but mostly pay low wage/limited to no benefit jobs, that many times get HUGE government tax credits! So when the BIG corporations don't pay their fair share of the taxes who do you think pays for it? YOU!! the "weak" taxpayer! They didn't make one mention of the higher cost in gasoline/fuel and/or the huge rate of inflation for vehicles. But they don't want to mention these things. They want you trapped in public transportation that also pays low wages to their workers while giving the private corporation and Billionaire CEO/owner that runs it huge profits.

This is just a few of the truths that should be known in projects like this. Be aware next ten years they will be looking to steal property from Barrio (already happening), Sherman Heights and SE San Diego via Civic San Diego and more eminent domain. And once again you will flip for the bills while the rich gain lots of property, huge tax credits, and write offs. Just like they have gentrified North & South Park, they will continue to steal the property, hope, and money from the poor. All while patting you on the head and kissing your cheek. Good luck City Heights, you will continue to be in my prayers."]
cityheights  sandiego  2014  data  statistics  pricephilanthropies  californiaendowment  crime  employment  income  meganburks  unemployment  healthinsurance  inequality  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  corporations  eminentdomain  taxes  costofliving  funding  government  redevelopment  incentives  charitableindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
november 2014 by robertogreco
A City Heights Ballroom Stuck in Redevelopment Limbo - YouTube
"Situated on one of City Heights' busiest street corners, University and Euclid avenues, the Silverado Ballroom is easy to miss. Its street level windows advertise discount furniture, like many others in City Heights. Its peachy beige color fits right in, too.

But look up and the picture changes. Elegant art deco curves on the second level begin to tell a story of 1930s glamour, couples reuniting at postwar dances and visits from music legends like Kitty Wells — if you can look past the peeling paint and ragged curtains.

As a perpetual stream of cars and buses zoom past, the Silverado Ballroom is stuck.

It was slated for restoration this year under an agreement between building owner David Chau and the city, which approved $1.5 million in redevelopment funds for the project.

But in 2011, the state pulled the plug on redevelopment, absorbing the funds to balance its budget and throwing $220 million in City Heights projects in limbo.

The decision also put Chau, a computer engineer and entrepreneur, in a precarious financial situation.

He's already sunk $170,000 of his own money into the restoration — money he says is his fair share for the project, which would yield an event space he could rent out for parties and weddings.

But Chau has also lost about $100,000 in rent money after relocating his tenants shortly before redevelopment ended. He was weeks away from construction at the time. Since then, Chau hasn't been able to find new tenants because he can't guarantee a long-term lease.

"I can't afford to keep the building vacant," Chau said.

Jeff Graham, president of Civic San Diego, the successor agency for the city's former redevelopment outfit, said relief could come this summer. The state is expected to tell the city whether it can spend proceeds from bonds the city previously sold against property tax increment increases.

Graham said, however, that since the bonds won't cover the whole lot of City Heights projects in limbo, Civic San Diego will likely ask community members to reprioritize. Some pending projects could fall to the bottom of the list; others could remain stalled as Civic San Diego looks for money elsewhere.

Chau and Silverado would be up against infrastructure projects residents have long rallied for — better sidewalks, more streetlights and fewer neglected foreclosures.

But City Heights also has a soft spot for the ballroom.

By Brian Myers and Megan Burks"
cityheights  history  redevelopment  2013  sandiego  brianmyers  meganburks 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The peril of hipster economics - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"In a sweeping analysis of displacement in San Francisco and its increasingly impoverished suburbs, journalist Adam Hudson notes that "gentrification is trickle-down economics applied to urban development: the idea being that as long as a neighbourhood is made suitable for rich and predominantly white people, the benefits will trickle down to everyone else". Like trickle-down economics itself, this theory does not play out in practice.

Rich cities such as New York and San Francisco have become what journalist Simon Kuper calls gated citadels: "Vast gated communities where the one percent reproduces itself."

Struggling US cities of the rust belt and heartland lack the investment of coastal contemporaries, but have in turn been spared the rapid displacement of hipster economics. Buffered by their eternal uncoolness, these slow-changing cities have a chance to make better choices - choices that value the lives of people over the aesthetics of place.

In an April blog post, Umar Lee, a St Louis writer and full-time taxi driver, bemoaned the economic model of rideshare services, which are trying to establish themselves in the city. Noting that they hurt not only taxi drivers but poor residents who have neither cars nor public transport and thus depend on taxis willing to serve dangerous neighbourhoods, he dismisses Uber and Lyft as hipster elitists masquerading as innovators:

"I've heard several young hipsters tell me they're socially-liberal and economic-conservative, a popular trend in American politics," he writes. "Well, I hate to break it to you buddy, but it's economics and the role of the state that defines politics. If you're an economic conservative, despite how ironic and sarcastic you may be or how tight your jeans are, you, my friend, are a conservative …"

Lee tells me he has his own plan to try to mitigate the negative effects of gentrification, which he calls "50-50-20-15". All employers who launch businesses in gentrifying neighbourhoods should have a workforce that is at least 50 percent minorities, 50 percent people from the local neighbourhood, and 20 percent ex-offenders. The employees should be paid at least $15 per hour.

Gentrification spreads the myth of native incompetence: That people need to be imported to be important, that a sign of a neighbourhood's "success" is the removal of its poorest residents. True success lies in giving those residents the services and opportunities they have long been denied.

When neighbourhoods experience business development, priority in hiring should go to locals who have long struggled to find nearby jobs that pay a decent wage. Let us learn from the mistakes of New York and San Francisco, and build cities that reflect more than surface values."
cities  class  gentrification  hipsters  race  economics  inequality  redevelopment  sanfrancisco  nyc  brooklyn  poverty  adamhudson  sarahkendzior  spikelee  katharinagrosse  whitewashing  simonkuper  segregation  rustbelt 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Avenida Revolución’s renaissance
"Revamped Mexicoach Station is part of a new generation’s battle to reclaim downtown Tijuana"



"Buenrostro, a passionate 30-year-old filmmaker and photographer, says he’s tired of the telling and retelling of Tijuana’s recent history regarding the drug war and the common perception that the city is still mostly seedy and filled with urban decay. He wants people to focus more on the city’s future and the mass of young people like him who are reclaiming downtown spaces and opening businesses catering to locals instead of tourists.

“What is happening right now is that these spaces are being transformed into new purposes that are generating a big impact on the city,” he says as he heads south on Revolución toward Sixth Street and the iconic Mexicoach building, with its eye-catching stained-glass rooftop. “It’s changing…. You can see it.”

Buenrostro walks past the handful of folks on benches at the entrance of the Mexicoach Station waiting for busses. The building is still a transportation hub, but what once served somewhere around 20,000 people a week now serves just about 200, Buenrostro says.

He blazes by a large, stuffed ostrich, one of the bizarre items for sale at the last remaining curio shop located near the entrance of the large building, and heads back to the stairs leading to the second and third floors. The loud sounds of construction fill the raw space he and his partners are leasing and refurbishing, so he pauses before heading up to the second floor to show off what, come early May, will be HUB STN.

“This building, like any other building on Revolución, was focused only on tourism,” he says, pointing to several shuttered storefronts on the first floor. “Tourism stopped…. But, eventually, a new type of tourism will come. In our case, entrepreneurial tourism—the people who are interested in the things that are changing the city, not the things that’ve contributed to the negative cliché of this city.”

Buenrostro is a founder of Reactivando Espacios, the initiative that gained international attention when the group helped negotiate with landlords of Pasaje Gómez, a once-abandoned alleyway, and rebranded it as a vibrant cultural district by documenting the potential of the space with film and photography.

These days, however, unless there’s a big public event, both of the pasajes sit relatively empty. On a recent visit to Pasaje Gómez, just a handful of shops were open and only a few potential customers trickled through. A similar scene played out across the street at Pasaje Rodríquez, where, thanks to a popular bookstore and a brewery, a few more customers lingered. Buenrostro and a few tenants in the pasajes say the landlords of the alleyway shops began seeing the large number of people at events and raised rents, pushing some tenants out. Another issue is artists renting spaces in the pasajes who refuse to open during normal business hours because there isn’t enough foot traffic.

Buenrostro isn’t ready to write off the alleyways as failures just yet, but he does admit that, with the Mexicoach project, he and his partners needed to take a new and different approach: focusing on binational startup businesses and entrepreneurs in diverse sectors.

“This building will be revitalized from a more economical point of view,” says Buenrostro, who approaches redevelopment as he would approach a documentary film, by first researching the history of the space and then capturing the story of its transformation with film and photos. “We are already leasing spaces, and it isn’t even finished yet.”

Rene Peralta, a professor at Woodbury School of Architecture and the principal of Generica, an architecture firm in Tijuana, is advising Buenrostro and partners Miguel Marshall of Angel Ventures Mexico and Marco Soto of Startup Weekend Tijuana on how to make HUB STN a sustainable venture. While Peralta is supportive of the project, he has some serious doubts.

“Basically, nothing is going to work downtown until you get a critical mass of people living and working there,” Peralta says. “They want to be the saviors of downtown. They have good intentions, and they’re doing everything they can to try to make this work.”

The big challenge, Peralta says, is an older generation of landlords who own most of the property on Revolución—Mexicoach Station included—and can’t see the street becoming anything but a tacky tourist destination. They don’t see the value of lowering rent or redeveloping their spaces for entrepreneurial or creative ventures, he says.

Buenrostro knows that asking property owners to take a chance on new entrepreneurs for the greater good of the city is a hard sell. It was difficult to initially convince the landlords of Pasaje Gómez to lower rents in order to allow creatives to move in, but he thinks startup businesses and entrepreneurs from both sides of the border will help ensure HUB STN’s longterm viability.

“Entrepreneurs want to contribute to the whole revitalization of downtown,” he says. “They know the value of what it’s generating.”"
tijuana  architecture  2014  avenidarevolución  mexicoachstation  reneperalta  redevelopment  mexico 
april 2014 by robertogreco
When Tokyo Was a Slum – The Informal City Dialogues
"Alongside the futuristic visage of skyscraper Tokyo, a human-scale city lies along rambling roads, where mom-and-pop stores sell soap and sandals, and private homes double as independent shops engaged in local trades like printmaking and woodworking.

This is incremental Tokyo, the foundation upon which the world’s most modern city is built.

Like much of the city, these small hamlets were smoldering ash pits 70 years ago, reduced to rubble by the bombs of Allied forces during World War II. When the war ended, Tokyo’s municipal government, bankrupt and in crisis mode, was in no condition to launch a citywide reconstruction effort. So, without ever stating it explicitly, it nevertheless made one thing clear: The citizens would rebuild the city. Government would provide the infrastructure, but beyond that, the residents would be free to build what they needed on the footprint of the city that once was, neighborhood by neighborhood."



"These mixed-use habitats and low-rise, high-density neighborhoods emerged by default, not design. But though the city didn’t plan them, it considered them legitimate and supported them. Sewage systems, water, electricity and roads were later infused into all parts of Tokyo, leaving no neighborhood behind, regardless of how slummy or messy it looked. Even the traditionally discriminated-against Burakumin areas were eventually provided access to state-of-the-art public services and amenities.

The notion that infrastructure must be adapted to the built environment, rather than the other way around, is a simple yet revolutionary idea. The Tokyo model, combining housing development by local actors and infrastructure from various agencies, explains why that city has some of the best infrastructure in the world today, not to mention a housing stock of great variety and bustling mixed-use neighborhoods.

The House Is a Tool

The relationship between the city’s urban form and its vibrant economy is best illustrated by the idea of homes as tools of production. Many of the houses built in the postwar period in Tokyo were based on the template of the traditional Japanese house, in which a single structure can serve as a shop, workshop, dormitory or family house — and possibly all of those things at once. Official statistics illustrate the scale of the home-based economy. As late as the 1970s, factories employing fewer than 20 employees accounted for 20 percent of the workers and 12.6 percent of the national output in Japan. In Tokyo alone, 99.5 percent of factories had fewer than 300 workers and employed 74 percent of all factory workers, according to economist Takeshi Hayashi. What these numbers tell us is that the Japanese miracle was built not only by large-scale factories, but also relied on a vast web of small producers that often worked from their neighborhoods and their homes."



"For the people who live in Dharavi, this is not only the best possible outcome, it’s their only option. Most residents of Dharavi cannot possibly afford to move to other parts of Mumbai. Their futures will rise or fall with the fate of their neighborhood, which is why the Tokyo model, which values and cultivates neighborhoods like theirs, is probably their best hope for economic and social advancement.

That prosperity, however, depends on the local authorities heeding the lessons of Tokyo. Neighborhoods like Dharavi are already served by various NGOs and foundations. The residents are doing their part. The only missing piece is the support of city authorities, whose attitude toward such settlements sets back the city of Mumbai as a whole.

What’s more, the Tokyo model is simply an elegant one that follows the path of least resistance, allowing order and mess to naturally combine as they would without top-down intervention. It’s hard to imagine a better example of “development” in its most holistic dimension: Houses, neighborhoods, economies and communities all rising in concert with one another. The environment is deeply connected to processes of collective growth, because people, objects and lived spaces are all knit together by the impulse to constantly improve and transform. Through this process, with very little capital, we see how user-generated neighborhoods invest in the idea of growth and mobility, where self-interest and successful urbanism are one and the same."

[Tagging this with Teddy Cruz because it reminds me of his study of Tijuana and his recommendation that we learn from patterns of growth and development there.]
postwar  mixeduse  lowrise  density  mimbai  takeshihayashi  cities  organic  organicism  home-basedeconomy  production  manufacturing  factories  openstudioproject  cafes  homeoffice  homefactory  homeworkshop  homes  infrastructure  redevelopment  development  dharavi  slums  mobility  economics  middleclass  collectivism  technology  neighborhoods  asia  informality  informal  cottageindustries  2013  urban  urbanism  growth  change  government  tokyo  japan  history 
july 2013 by robertogreco
My Right Turn at the Intersection of Good Ideas | PlaceMakers
"Setting the context, this is what Bill Fulton, preeminent planner / writer / Mayor of Ventura, writes and thinks about the state of California planning today:
The entire planning business in California is changing, and I cannot quite predict where we are headed. So many of the conditions we have lived with for the past generation or two are changing. Real estate development is flat and we can’t predict when the market’s coming back, meaning we can’t use development to leverage needed change in our communities – nor use developer money to fund our practices. Local government revenue is flat and probably going down – meaning advance planning in California is extremely dependent right now on state and federal money, which could dry up anytime. And, of course, nobody knows what’s going to happen with redevelopment in the long run. Cities are on the verge of bankruptcy, planning departments are being rolled up, and planners are out on the street.
In the short run, all these things are harmful to the profession and to California’s communities as well. But it’s possible that some kind of shakeout and rethinking of how planning works in this state is long overdue. Maybe we’ve become too dependent on the same ol’-same ol’ – tax-increment funds, developer impact fees, and so forth. Maybe it’s time to find a new model – one where the local governments play a smaller or at least different role, and developers and nonprofit organizations play a bigger one.

No argument there. And look where it fits with this NGO model presented by architect Teddy Cruz:
Our projects primarily engage the micro scale of the neighborhood, transforming it into the urban laboratory of the 21st century. The forces of control at play across the most trafficked checkpoint in the world has provoked the small border neighborhoods that surround it to construct alternative urbanisms of transgression that infiltrate themselves beyond the property line in the form of non-conforming spatial and entrepreneurial practices. A migrant, small scale activism that alters the rigidity of discriminatory urban planning of the American metropolis, and search for new modes of social sustainability and affordability. The political and economic processes behind this social activism bring new meaning to the role of the informal in the contemporary city. What is interesting here is not the ‘image’ of the informal but the instrumentality of its operational socio-economic and political procedures. The counter economic and social organizational practices produced by non-profit social service organizations (turned micro-developers of alternative housing prototypes and public infrastructure at the scale of the parcel) within these neighborhoods are creating alternative sites of negotiation and collaboration. They effectively search to transform top-down legislature and lending structures, in order to generate a new brand of bottom-up social and economic justice that can bridge the political equator.

An interesting convergence. Now allow me to add my ‘Community Character Corner‘ synopsis, which heroically attempts to bridge the brilliant points of both these perspectives together…"
2011  teddcruz  billfulton  california  sandiego  planning  urbanplanning  urbanism  neighborhoods  small  border  borders  transgression  migration  socialactivism  informal  affordability  sustainability  policy  politics  economics  cities  housing  collaboration  bottom-up  top-down  politicalequator  entrepreneurship  change  covernment  redevelopment  ventura  socal  howardblackson 
june 2013 by robertogreco
City of Quartz, Fortress LA: The Militarization of Urban Space
"Here, as in other American cities, municipal policy has taken its lead from the security offensive and the middle-class demand for increased spatial and social insulation. Taxes previously targeted for traditional public spaces and recreational facilities have been redirected to support corporate redevelopment projects. A pliant city government--in the case of Los Angeles, one ironically professing to represent a liberal biracial coalition--has collaborated in privatizing public space and subsidizing new exclusive enclaves (benignly called "urban villages")."
architecture  losangeles  california  sociology  mikedavis  security  class  segregation  cityofquartz  redevelopment  publicspace  socialinsulation  urbanvillages 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Robbery? Not in this Redevelopment Fight - voiceofsandiego.org:
"What the response revealed though, as if it were hidden, was that it's not necessarily big government that city of San Diego Republican leaders are against. They have a resource-allocation grievance. Spending is OK, & it's to be encouraged, in fact. Investment in downtown &, say, a new Convention Center is an obvious good. Government spending isn't the problem for them—it's that Other Part of Government spending that's the problem.

I just don't get it, they'll say. Let's take their objections 1 by 1: [listed]…

At some point Sanders, Faulconer, Gloria & everyone else will have to just admit they want the money for this & not that. They could make the case about why their preferred spending was more important than the spending that was preserved…a legitimate position. But it doesn't, apparently, carry the weight of screaming that you're the victim of armed robbery by big government.

Unfortunately it wasn't robbery. It was a resource-allocation game that someone had to lose."
california  sandiego  government  money  biggovernment  taxes  redevelopment  politics  2011  budgetcuts  funding  jerrybrown  jerrysanders 
june 2011 by robertogreco
San Diego Stuck State With Schools' Big Bill - voiceofsandiego.org: The Hall
"Nathan Fletcher helped craft a deal that funneled a big share of an estimated $6 billion in tax money to downtown redevelopment. An alternate version of the bill would have directed more money to the state for local schools."
sandiego  politics  money  funding  schools  education  redevelopment  2011  nathanfletcher  robbery  greasedhands 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Shareable: Can a City Build a Better Version of Itself?
"Renderings in master plan of gleaming towers, parks & gardens suggest harmony, community & sustainability. It embodies almost all of design ideas we promote on Shareable.net. Indeed, my first reaction on seeing master plan was to be awed & excited—& I wasn’t alone: most local coverage of development has bordered on fawning. “If Treasure Island is reborn along the lines being touted, result will be a neighborhood like none the Bay Area has seen,” writes architecture critic John King in SF Chronicle. Meanwhile, green sites like Inhabitat have presented the project as architectural porn.
architecture  cities  ecotopia  redevelopment  us  utopia  urban  treasureisland  sanfrancisco 
august 2010 by robertogreco
ReBurbia
"In a future where limited natural resources will force us to find better solutions for density and efficiency, what will become of the cul-de-sacs, cookie-cutter tract houses and generic strip malls that have long upheld the diffuse infrastructure of suburbia? How can we redirect these existing spaces to promote sustainability, walkability, and community? It’s a problem that demands a visionary design solution and we want you to create the vision! ... Show us how you would re-invent the suburbs! What would a McMansion become if it weren’t a single-family dwelling? How could a vacant big box store be retrofitted for agriculture? What sort of design solutions can you come up with to facilitate car-free mobility, ‘burb-grown food, and local, renewable energy generation? We want to see how you’d design future-proof spaces and systems using the suburban structures of the present, from small-scale retrofits to large-scale restoration—the wilder the better!"
design  architecture  urban  suburban  redevelopment  capitalism  suburbia  planning  bldgblog  suburbs  urbanplanning  meltdown  landscape  competition  infrastructure  housing  cities  competitions  dwell  contests 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Artists vs. Blight - WSJ.com
"Artists have long been leaders of an urban vanguard that colonizes blighted areas. Now, the current housing crisis has created a new class of urban pioneer. Nationwide, home foreclosure proceedings increased 81% in 2008 from the previous year, rising to 2.3 million, according to California-based foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac. Homes in hard-hit cities such as Detroit and Cleveland are selling for as little as $1. Drawn by available spaces and cheap rents, artists are filling in some of the neighborhoods being emptied by foreclosures. City officials and community groups seeking ways to stop the rash of vacancies are offering them incentives to move in, from low rents and mortgages to creative control over renovation projects.
art  artists  recession  detroit  cleveland  housing  development  gentrification  redevelopment  buffalo  blight  realestate  urban  urbanism  economics  cities 
may 2009 by robertogreco
The Motor(less) City
"Detroit’s got problems. That’s not new. The question is how to tap into the potential, if any, that remains. How can Detroit, and Michigan, bring out the best in our creative, highly trained and skilled workers, stem the population loss, convince our students to get an education, and make a change from a largely industrial economy, into something else? Detroit’s had a “renaissances” at least twice in the past. One in the late 70’s, hence the Renaissance Center, and again in the late 90’s, when condos and lofts began to pop up all over the city. When will Detroit’s real renaissance occur? And how can we make it happen faster?"
detroit  redevelopment  urbandecay  architecture  photography  blogs 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Open the Future: The Suburban Question
"Gentrification, re-urbanization, even "black flight" to the suburbs upset conceptual models of built environment that remained dominant in US for last few decades. Cities are back... and suburbs may be abandoned to low-income.."
gentrification  cities  housing  green  redevelopment  suburbia  suburbs  urban  urbanism  living  future  sustainability  via:blackbeltjones 
may 2008 by robertogreco
CoolTown Studios
"blog of CoolTown Beta Communities, which focuses on implementation as crowdsource-based placemaking & economic development firm committed to codeveloping natural cultural districts for creatives, by creatives."
architecture  developers  cities  collectiveintelligence  collaboration  creativeclass  crowdsourcing  creativity  urban  urbanism  trendwatching  design  planning  sustainability  redevelopment  development  placebranding  place  community 
march 2008 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Project Runway
"A recent landscape design competition sought to rethink the Vatnsmýri airport grounds in Reykjavík, Iceland, putting those old runways to use, for instance, as new urban park space."
airports  architecture  design  green  landscape  redevelopment  urban  urbanism  transit  iceland  reykjavík 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Learning From Tijuana: Hudson, N.Y., Considers Different Housing Model: Teddy Cruz - Architecture - New York Times
"great achievement here has less to do with aesthetic experimentation than with creating a bold antidote to the depressing model of ersatz small-town America embraced by so many suburban developers in recent years."
teddycruz  tijuana  sandiego  housing  hudsonny  hudson  design  architecture  class  community  identity  gentrification  urban  landscape  gardens  redevelopment  playgrounds  affordability  density  green  environment  public  private  urbanism  planning 
february 2008 by robertogreco

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