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

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.

 

Immigrant Talent Study Helps Six Cities Leverage Local Talent to Contribute to Economic Development by the Knight Foundation

A new study of college-educated immigrants will track the experiences of underutilized, skilled immigrants in six cities to discover ways to better integrate and leverage the talents of workers who were educated abroad.… 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

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.

Read More

Media Round-Up!

This week in legacy city news:

An Uneasy Peace for a Cash-Strapped City and Its Prestigious Nonprofits
Emily Badger writes on the nonprofit status of higher education and medical anchor institutions in legacy cities.

Big Ideas from the 2013 Bruner Loeb Forum Detroit
Metropolis magazine gives a great overview of The American Assembly and The J. Max Bond Center’s work on Legacy City Design and the 2013 Bruner Loeb Forum on Legacy City Design in Detroit.

Turning a City Into a Homegrown National Park
A story from Good on Toronto’s Seaton Village transformation through greenery and poetry.

Why Cities Can’t Win in State Government
Richard Florida highlights a study to support an “age-old urbanist complaint” that “economically powerful cities are held hostage by rurally dominated legislatures.”

Finally, a reminder that the deadline for the Vacant Property Research Network’s Master’s Award is February 15, 2014:

The Vacant Property Research Network (VPRN) announces its first annual scholarship to sponsor two masters students whose research contributes to new knowledge and practice around vacant properties.

Read More

Federal Judge Rules Detroit Eligible for Bankruptcy

[Edited 12/4/13]

A round-up of links to noteworthy responses to Detroit’s bankruptcy announcement and implications of pension cuts:

More Cities Should Go Bankrupt at Slate

Pension Ruling in Detroit Echoes West to California in the New York Times

A great article by Detroit Free Press journalist and legacy cities advocate John Gallagher outlining next steps for Orr after the ruling

A Growth Strategy for Post-Bankruptcy Detroit, published by Brookings in July 2013


Today’s court ruling confirming Detroit’s insolvency means that:

  • The city may reduce its overall debt (a total of $18.5 billion)
  • More time and more options in sorting out how to pay off the debt that is left
  • Creditors (city unions, pension funds) can lose billions in long-term liabilities–they are expected to appeal the ruling
  • The city may now move towards restoring essential services (with court supervision)

From the New York Times article:

One central argument from lawyers for the city’s public sector unions and retirees was that Detroit’s request for bankruptcy protection came before it had made good faith attempts to negotiate with creditors.

Read More