Coming to Your Town? Stuff Getting Knocked Down

Abandoned home, North St. Louis, 2007 (Urban Review STL)It’s called “shrink to survive” and it may be coming to a Rust Belt, Midwestern city near you.

The idea is pretty simple. Big is bad in a bad economy. There are too many abandoned buildings and derelict homes in America’s cities, so rather than try to save these industrial parks and neighborhoods, let’s bulldoze them down and give them back to Mama Earth. And the Obama Administration is seriously considering this measure along with several other major metropolitan areas.

More after the jump.

From the UK Telegraph:

The radical experiment is the brainchild of Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint.

Having outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the election campaign, Mr Kildee has now been approached by the US government and a group of charities who want him to apply what he has learnt to the rest of the country.

Mr Kildee said he will concentrate on 50 cities, identified in a recent study by the Brookings Institution, an influential Washington think-tank, as potentially needing to shrink substantially to cope with their declining fortunes.

Most are former industrial cities in the “rust belt” of America’s Mid-West and North East. They include Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Memphis.

In Detroit, shattered by the woes of the US car industry, there are already plans to split it into a collection of small urban centres separated from each other by countryside.

“The real question is not whether these cities shrink – we’re all shrinking – but whether we let it happen in a destructive or sustainable way,” said Mr Kildee. “Decline is a fact of life in Flint. Resisting it is like resisting gravity.”

Old Carter Carburetor plant in North St. Louis

I’m pretty sure my hometown of St. Louis is on that list of declining cities. (If not, it should be.) We have a major abandoned home, derelict building and toxic waste site problems in North City — (Carter Carburetor, anyone?) While I understand it’s hard for people to wrap their head around the notion that big may not be better, the idea of finally cleaning up a nightmare like Carter Carburetor and turning it into a grassy park sounds wonderful. Because, let’s be honest, what would the people of North City like more — unclean EPA Superfund site eyesore the size of a city block and a reminder of jobs they DON’T have or a giant lawn? I’m going with the lawn.

Unless it’s a historical landmark, it ain’t worth it. I say, knock it down.

10 thoughts on “Coming to Your Town? Stuff Getting Knocked Down

  1. This makes sense if it’s done right. If they are bring down industrial buildings then okay. But I have a problem with bringing down abandoned homes when there are so many homeless people. Hopefully they will create a plan to fix those homes and put homeless people and families in them.

  2. Housing would be more affordable if the government did not subsidize slum lords with Section 8. Section 8 provides an artificial bottom to rents.

  3. I’m with Monie on the "done right" thing, especially with industrial sites. It can be way expensive and complicated to redevelop those, especially a Superfund-level site. You need a lot of careful, thoughtful planning and cooperation to pull that off.

  4. This makes sense and should be done. For everyone who raised the problem of homelessness, while it is a serious problem, I don’t think the solution is to move homeless people into blighted empty buildings in mostly desolate neighborhoods. In Detroit, where I’m from, as well as in Flint, there are entire blocks that are mostly abandoned homes, save for one or two houses, usually owned by nice little old widows who refuse to leave their homes and move in with their daughters. I think it is better to offer the owners of those one or two homes some cash to move and raze the block, rather than move a whole group of homeless people in on them.

  5. I’m from Detroit as well. I agree with all of the posters above. Homelessness is usually more than just an issue of not having a home. There are usually employment issues, physical/mental health issues and economic issues tied in with homelessness. There is also the issue of transportation. Concentrating people in smaller areas that make it convenient to walk or take public transportation should also be considered. Detroit and Flint especially have poor public transportation systems (thanks a lot, auto industry). There are more issues to be considered (such as job/industrial development, changes to the infrastructure) before something like what the Obama administration can be accomplished. It has to be done right, or else we’ll end up with a bunch of "mini-Detroits" that have the same problems.

  6. Chiming in from Detroit/Highland Park, home of Henry Ford’s first assembly line. Knock them down. Plant gardens, which some folks are doing anyway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top
%d bloggers like this: