CBC Support for Middle Neighborhoods

The 115th Congressional Black Caucus | www.cbc.house.gov

In March, the Congressional Black Caucus issued the report “We Have a Lot To Lose: Solutions to Advance Black Families in the 21st Century,” and among solutions for addressing economic disparity and lifting Americans out of poverty, was “build and strengthen middle neighborhoods across the country.” The report was presented to President Trump.

As part of its legacy cities work, The American Assembly has embarked on an initiative with the authors of its recent publication On the Edge: America’s Middle Neighborhoods and editor Paul Brophy to build leadership and support around the issue of middle neighborhoods. Middle neighborhoods are on the edge of growth and decline. They are generally more racially diverse, housing is typically affordable, and quality of life—measured by employment rates, crime rates, and school performance—is sufficiently good so that new home buyers are willing to play the odds. With a small amount of investment (or a little more neglect), middle neighborhoods can greatly impact the future of a legacy city, either tipping surrounding areas into deeper decline or stabilizing them.… Read More

Preservation Advocacy for Legacy Cities

Last week, the Legacy Cities Partnership supported grassroots efforts to protect the Federal Historic Tax Credit during the Preservation Action Network’s Advocacy Week in Washington, D.C.

As the federal administration continues its attack on the health, safety and security of millions of Americans, we commit to helping protect invaluable programs that help stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods, recognizing that legacy city communities will be some of the hardest hit by massive budget cuts and impending tax reform.

The Federal HTC has been an effective tool for neighborhood revitalization in many legacy cities, as it incentivizes private investment in the rehabilitation of older, historic buildings and returns vacant and underutilized buildings to the tax rolls. Preservation can also provide a much-needed platform for public discourse and collective activity around equitable approaches to affordability and the preservation of cultural heritage. Learn more about the Federal Historic Tax Credit in action in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois on the advocacy briefs below, and check out our work with the Preservation Rightsizing Network to learn more about the legacy cities approach to preservation in legacy cities.… Read More

Our Response to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

On February 26, 2016, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) published a new draft policy statement on Historic Preservation and Community Revitalization seeking comments from the public. We appreciate the ACHP’s recognition of the important connections between preservation and community revitalization. We share the goal of empowering federal, state, and local governments to achieve revitalization goals while promoting the reuse and rehabilitation of historic properties.

However, the policy statement needs to go further in clearly describing the issues involved and charting a clear path forward for federal, state, and local government agencies and partners in this essential work. We urge the ACHP to revise the policy statement so it can play a stronger role in addressing the major challenges facing historic buildings and neighborhoods in America’s legacy cities. We invite any preservationists and legacy city allies with an interest in this topic to consider our response and share your own comments with the ACHP by this Monday, April 4, 2016.… Read More

National Welcoming Week and News Updates

Today, on National Citizenship Day, President Obama launched the “Stand Stronger” Citizenship Awareness Campaign to celebrate immigrant and refugee contributions to our country’s social and cultural fabric, and to provide critical resources for those on the path to becoming American citizens. Noting the vital role immigrants have for our country’s continued economic prosperity, President Obama released a video message to encourage residents to commit to US Citizenship today.

In conjunction with this announcement, the White House Task Force on New Americans is coordinating with local partners who are holding over 70 citizenship outreach events across the country this week. Many of America’s legacy cities are taking the lead in creating a welcoming environment for immigrants to thrive and contribute back to their communities. The campaign was launched in conjunction with community partners and civic leaders across the country. The #StandStrongerUS campaign is also working with organizations like the PVBLIC Foundation, an in-kind grant making organization, to harness the power of donated advertising space from leading media companies.… Read More

Brain Gain in Legacy Cities

By Nicholas Hamilton

My fellow urban policy thinker and sometimes debating partner Aaron Renn at the Manhattan Institute just released a report on Brain Gain in America’s Shrinking Cities. Next City ran an article on Thursday on the topic with some interesting examples of the types of programs Renn advises against. Renn makes some essential points to which every leader in a legacy city should take note. It boils down to this: “brain drain” isn’t happening in your city or it isn’t happening the way you think it is, so change your strategy. (Update: See Renn’s latest article about this in Syracuse.) His main points are pasted below, but the full report is well worth the read and is packed with insightful charts and tables that unpack these observations.

  • Every major metro area in the country that has been losing population and/or jobs is actually gaining people with college degrees at double digit rates.
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Redeveloping Commercial Vacant Properties in Legacy Cities

A HOW TO MANUAL for Legacy Cities friends/leaders/advocates: this set of specific guidelines, tools and strategies for redeveloping commercial vacant properties and business districts in legacy cities is now available for download here.

The Greater Ohio Policy Center, in partnership with the German Marshall Fund of the United States and with support from the Center for Community Progress, has developed the guidebook including the following tools:

  • Guidance on planning & partnering for commercial revitalization
  • Methods for analyzing the market
  • Advice on matching market types & strategies for commercial revitalization
  • Legal tools for reclaiming commercial vacant properties
  • Funding sources for overcoming financial gaps
  • Menu of property reuse options
  • Ways to attract & retain business tenants
  • Methods and models for managing a commercial district
  • Strategies for building markets in legacy cities

Please share this comprehensive resource with people in your LC network!… Read More

Placemaking in Legacy Cities Must Be “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper”

The interview below was reposted with permission from Center for Community Progress. The original post is located here.

Center for Community Progress, a nonprofit focused on solutions for vacant properties (of which legacy cities see a lot of – upwards of 20% in some cases), has recently published Placemaking in Legacy Cities: Opportunities and Good Practices. The report explores how residents and leaders in Legacy Cities have used placemaking principles to transform blighted public spaces into revitalized community assets.

CCP recently spoke with the authors of the report, Francis Grunow and Sarah Szurpicki, to get a bit of an overview of what placemaking means in Legacy Cities. You might already be asking yourself, “What IS placemaking?” Well, let’s get started.

In short, what is placemaking?

Placemaking is a fairly new term used to describe the steps needed to achieve a very old idea. The old idea is that when people come together to form communities they often like to create great public spaces designed to express their values and connect with each another.… Read More

Strong Cities: Flint, Gary, St. Louis, Macon & more

By Stephanie Sung

The Obama Administration and the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative (SC2) have recently announced its expansion to include seven new cities:

Brownsville, Texas; Gary, Indiana; Flint, Michigan; Macon, Georgia; Rockford, Illinois; Rocky Mountain, North Carolina; and St. Louis, Missouri.

SC2 is a program that helps link urban leadership with federal resources and expertise with the hopes that it will help reduce red tape and improve local capacity. What this means is that the federal government has placed capable officials in cities that could use them. People like Kathleen Fox, SC2 Fellow and recent Legacy Cities Design Initiative participant, have been on the ground for nearly two years in several legacy cities, including Cleveland, Youngstown, Detroit and New Orleans.… Read More

New Market Tax Credit Expires

By Stephanie Sung

The future of the New Market Tax Credit (NMTC), a federal subsidy for businesses and development agencies to encourage investment in underserved communities, is now unclear as the program expired at the end of 2013. NMTC officially ended at the close of 2011 but was quickly renewed. There’s no sign of extension this time around, though senators Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) introduced legislation to make the program permanent in June.

Next City’s Bill Bradley has been covering the successes of NMTCs and recently wrote on what one distressed community in Chicago now faces with its recent expiry:

The loss of NMTCs won’t entirely scare off investors, but it could certainly give them pause. Southside Community Optimal Redevelopment Enterprise (SCORE), an organization on Chicago’s South Side, was awarded $20 million in credits in 2012. Joe Bakhos, SCORE’s community outreach director, expressed worry for how developers and investors will finance projects in low-income neighborhoods once the NMTC program expires.

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Legacy City Design / Bruner Loeb Forum 2013

Last week in Detroit, the Legacy City Design Forum convened over a hundred designers, planners, architects, developers, community leaders, public officials and policy makers to share innovative design interventions in legacy cities. Cities represented include: Detroit, Gary, Flint, New Orleans, Baltimore, St. Louis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Syracuse, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The forum was structured to include comparative case studies between Cleveland, Syracuse, Detroit and Buffalo, and featured guest speakers and interactive work sessions. The two themes of the conference were 1) rethinking land use to create sustainable urban neighborhoods and 2) innovative infrastructure in high vacancy areas.

Check out dispatches from the forum here, courtesy of Next City:
How America’s Largest Historic Public Market District Is Resisting ‘Commercial Gentrification’
Detroit’s Repopulation Question
Syracuse Considers Urban Freeway Removal
Two Cautionary Tales on Housing Access
Rebuilding the Neighborhood Without Leaving Out Neighbors
Saving Detroit’s Basements, One Prairie at a Time

A few great recaps from Barbara Epstein for the LOEBlog, at the Harvard Graduate School of Design:
Fueling Hope
Innovation and Scale
Looking Forward
Pockets of Inspiration

And finally, an article from Architectural Record:
Learning From Legacy Cities

“Legacy Cities” was coined by The American Assembly at Columbia University, which published Rebuilding America’s Legacy Cities, a collection of policy and regulatory reforms necessary to “move the needle” on urban transformation for this unique group of cities.… Read More