National Welcoming Week and News Updates


Stand Stronger: a national campaign to empower New Americans

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

What’s New(s) in Legacy Cities


2015 is off with a bang!

Announcing three upcoming events plus our media round-up covering legacy cities news this month. It’s already been a busy year!

EVENTS

Urban Sustainability Meetups in Detroit, NYC (and SF and LA)
Meetups under the banner of “urban sustainability” have formed as informal groups of dedicated urbanists of all ages in cities around the country.  Staff from the American Assembly helped to organize the Meetup in New York which has an event this Sunday, January 25th at the Queens Museum on Urban Renewal, and its every-other month happy hour on Thursday, February 5. Also scheduled is an Urban Sustainability Meetup in Detroit on Thursday, February 5th.

Next City Vanguard Leadership Conference
Next City’s 6th annual Vanguard Leadership Conference will be in Reno, NV from May 6th to 8th. Applications are due on Feb. 8th, but you can save $10 on the application if you apply before Feb.… Read More

Media Round-Up!


It’s time for another media round-up!  And here we go…!

Take it to the Bank: How Land Banks Are Strengthening America’s Neighborhoods

by the Center for Community Progress

An estimated 120 land banks exist in theUnited States, and their ability to adapt to local conditions and needs is helping communities, large and small, address the negative impacts of vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties.

In Take it to the Bank: How Land Banks Are Strengthening America’s Neighborhoods, authors Payton Heins and Tarik Abdelazim, from the Center for Community Progress, reveal trends in the growing land bank movement.   Examining more than half of the nation’s land banks, the report includes (1) characteristics of successful land banks, (2) a national scan of land banking in the U.S., (3) in-depth portraits of seven diverse land banks, and (4) a rich array of appendices featuring land bank policies and other core documents.

Click here to download the free PDF.Read More

Media Round-Up!


This week in Legacy City news:

Federalism and Municipal Innovation: Lessons from the Fight Against Vacant Properties
by Benton Martin
Benton Martin writes on the importance of local government to build constituencies and head off objections from other levels of government. The full essay was published in August in The Urban Lawyer.

Will a Greenbelt Help to Shrink Detroit’s Wasteland?
by Mark Skidmore, professor of economics at Michigan State University
This Land Lines article considers the fiscal causes and repercussions of Detroit’s surplus of housing and vacant property, and some potential ways to reconcile the remaining number of people with the amount of vacant and publicly held property. These measures range from targeting densely populated neighborhoods for redevelopment to establishing a greenbelt and reclaiming vacant parcels for public use.

Rutgers Plans New Arts Center in Long Vacant Downtown Newark Department Store
by Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Rutgers University has approved a $25 million plan to lease three floors of the vacant Hahne & Co.… Read More

Media Round-Up!


This week in legacy city news:

Detroit Launches Website to Auction Homes to Residents, Not Developers
by Bill Bradley at Next City
Detroit launched buildingdetroit.org on Monday, which aims to auction off houses with the goal of ensuring they serve as real neighborhood building blocks. How? Buyers have to prove they are moving in (or being rehabbed for prospective homeowners). Also, you must be a Michigan resident or business in order to bid.

Is the ‘Rust Belt’ a Dirty Word?
by Richey Piiparinen at Huffington Post
“Rust Belt”: does it connote a lost industry and the shame of being left behind, or is it a powerful way to reclaim one’s history?

America’s Urban Future
by Vishaan Chakrabarti at New York Times
A broad call for policies that advance urban interests: increasing density, city infrastructure and amenities.

From Grand Rapids to Ghana: In Developing-World Healthcare Market, Low-Tech is the New Cutting Edge
by Steven Thomas Kent at Rapid Growth Media
“When I was growing up [in Grand Rapids] it seemed like this kind of stuffy place that was not very innovative in the past.… Read More

Media Round-Up!


This week in legacy cities news:

The Persistence of Failed History: “White Infill” as the New “White Flight”?
by Richey Piiparinen at Urbanophile
Piiparinen explores the “back-to-the-city” movement, an inversion of 1968’s flight to the suburbs, challenging the little proven trickle-down effect of “white infill” in the inner city.

Can Youngstown Make It On Its Own?
by Alan Mallach at Rooflines
“The entire region [has] to realize not only that Youngstown isn’t going away, but that their decline and that of the city are totally intertwined—and that the region isn’t going to revive until or unless Youngstown does.”

When Will We Hear About the Actual People in Detroit?
by Bill Bradley at Next City
Bill Bradley wonders when public officials will talk about the real problems in Detroit: poverty, crime and social inequity.

How to Make Detroit’s Data Accessible
By Nancy Scola at Next City
Also at Next City, an interview with nonprofit Data Driven Detroit director Erica Raleigh.… Read More

Legacy City States More Prone to Overspend


ChrisProfileGuest contributor Chris Eshleman reports on the recent release of US Census Bureau data set on state deficits.

In late January, the US Census Bureau compiled and released data showing that in 2012 state governments spent well beyond their means — for the third time in four years. Revenues lagged behind expenditures in 34 states.

The implications of state deficits for city-level fiscal health are myriad. They cover everything from the future of revenue-sharing programs and borrowing rates to state legislatures’ ability to compile healthy annual capital budgets.

But when you break the numbers down, the implications were worse for some states than for others. The 20 states with at least one legacy city overspent in 2012 by $391 per state resident — that’s the amount that state expenditures eclipsed revenues divided by the number of state residents (as counted in the 2010 census).

StateSurpandDefThe states with the largest deficit (New Jersey, Massachusetts and Louisiana) are home to legacy cities; the three states with the largest surplus have none.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


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.

SC2 reports positive results from the pilot cities:

In the two years since SC2 was announced, it has enabled its partners to more effectively utilize roughly $368 million in existing federal funds and investments.

Read More

New Market Tax Credit Expires


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.

Read More