Urban renewal is a great way to get a city back on track and improve it. We have seen a number of cities across the nation decline due to blighted neighborhoods. This is primarily due to economic status of the cities. For example, if a major corporation pulls out of a town, it will cause an economic domino effect. Cities that were once prosperous can return to this state with a desire for revitalization and a healthy financial investment. When people hear about a town being revitalized, they think that it entails new highrises and some retail. This is not always the case. Revitalizing a town can also mean creating an entertainment center or a farm to create new jobs and bring in revenue. Below are some of the top urban revitalization projects in the U.S.
- Las Vegas, Nevada — Twenty years ago, this town was known only for its casinos and strip clubs. It was not a family-friendly vacation destination. This changed when the major casinos began upgrading their properties to include family-friendly activities (e.g. shows). High-rent condos and luxury retail soon began to take up residence. However, Downtown Las Vegas is slowly turning into a “place of “Inspiration, Entrepreneurial Energy, Creativity, Innovation, Upward Mobility, and Discovery.” In 2013, Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, invested $350 million into the downtown revitalization. The first completed project is Container Park.
- Seattle, Washington — The South Lake Union district of Seattle has recently been transformed into a biomedical hub from a collection of industrial buildings and parking lots. The revitalization of South Lake Union is largely due to Amazon and Vulcan Real Estate. South Lake Union is the newest headquarters of Amazon. In the past ten years, Vulcan has developed over 5 million square feet and $5 billion has been invested into the district. In 2013, new zoning changes had real estate developers scrambling to make plans to develop buildings that were once designated for downtown Seattle (e.g. residential towers). It’s only a matter of time before we see new office buildings for major corporations, such as Touchstone and Omni Group.
- Detroit, Michigan — Detroit is slowly going through a renaissance. In 2014, the Obama administration created a Blight Task Force to clear dilapidated or becoming dilapidated homes in the city. The city owns a third of the blighted homes and the number of homes that have been demolished is debatable. However, Hantz Woodlands is striving to change this. This company has been buying up properties since 2009, clearing and planting trees on them. This is an unusual urban revitalization project because the goal is not to create more housing or office space, but the largest urban tree farm on 450 parcels.