Chapter 2
Planned Development
vs. Organic Change:
Tools in the Effort to
Revitalize Central Cities
and Downtown Areas
2.1 Introduction
For more than 50 years some national, state (provincial), and local ocials, phil-
anthropic organizations (e.g., Cleveland Foundation, Ford Foundation, Lilly
Endowment, Kresge Foundation, etc.), community leaders, and academicians have
focused on strategies to revitalize central cities. ese eorts have been needed to
respond to the eects of social and economic changes that have redened the use of
land in metropolitan areas. In most regions, central cities have lost residents and jobs.
With fewer people and rms, property values declined, leading to budget shortfalls.
at loss of nancial strength has made it increasingly dicult for numerous
cities to provide the public services (e.g., safety, education, infrastructure) residents
need. Declining service levels make cities less attractive as a place to live. A greater
understanding of the economic and social changes that have created the scal chal-
lenge confronting cities is necessary to chart corrective policies. Needed policies
must shift or realign the demand for residential, commercial, and retail space from
a focus on suburban locations to one that makes central cities desirable places to live
44Reversing Urban Decline
and work. Can central cities oer individuals, families, and corporations attractive
places for their homes and businesses? How does a central city shift the demand
for homes and business locations? e answers lie in an understanding of the forces
that have tilted the demand for locations to suburban areas. A central thesis of this
book is that big-ticket assets dominated by sports facilities can change the demand
for residential and commercial space toward downtown areas. To sustain this policy
orientation—and before examining the success and lessons learned by the invest-
ments made by numerous cities using sports to anchor revitalization eortsa
more detailed description of the forces that initially shifted demand toward subur-
ban areas is needed.
2.2 The Social and Economic Forces
Changing Urban Space
2.2.1 Segregation and Hegemonic Actions
Ethnic, income, and racial segregation remain pervasive determinants of the use of
urban space (and land) despite some changing attitudes. One of the factors chang-
ing societal attitudes toward racial segregation is related to higher levels of inter-
marriage and the number of biracial and biethnic children that are a part of every
major North America city. Despite this important progress, however, people still
choose areas to live where there are large numbers of others from the same ethnic or
racial group. More importantly for the ideas in this book, where there is a level of
integration along racial or ethnic lines, there is a preference for areas that are eco-
nomically segregated. Economic segregation minimizes the transfer of taxes paid
by higher-income households to fund the services needed by lower-income families.
at transfer has always been required. In many ways, however, it was invisible to
people in the past because high-, middle-, and lower-income families lived in dif-
ferent neighborhoods that were located in the same city.
As changing transportation and communication costs made it feasible for
higher-income people to choose residences that isolated them from central cities
that contained larger proportions of a regions lower-income households, an eco-
nomic incentive was created that allowed higher-income individuals to reduce the
transfers of the taxes they paid to fund services provided to lower-income house-
holds. Urban planners, public administrators, and urban policy specialists have
been wrestling with this reality for the past several decades in an eort to ensure
that quality schools and other urban services necessary for economic mobility con-
tinue to be available to lower-income families.
In the 19th and for more than half of the 20th century, central cities had segre-
gated neighborhoods, but dierent income cohorts or groups of people still lived in
the same single central city. Now groups have been able to segregate themselves into
independent suburban cities, and thus insulate themselves from income transfers to

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