Formerly decaying neighbourhoods in cities like Boston, Chicago, Houston, Cleveland, New York and Oakland are being revitalised due to what urban-reinvestment expert Paul Grogan calls a "surprising convergence of positives." Neighbourhood-based community development organisations have formed thousands of public-private partnerships with banks, foundations, corporations and government agencies to build thousands of housing units.
In his new book, Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Revival, co-authored with former journalist Tony Proscio, Grogan explains why city neighbourhoods across the country are recovering. (Now a vice president at Harvard University, Grogan was chief executive of Local Initiatives Support Corp. for 13 years.)
Some are "motivated by faith, others by frustration," as Grogan puts it, to recruit businesses, form block watches and civic clubs or organise child-care centres and charter schools.
Banks, supermarkets, drug-store chains and other businesses slowly have been coming back to abandoned business districts and are lending capital to help small businesses, many owned by new immigrants.
Improved police-community relations, the lowest crime rates in more than 30 years and a booming economy have renewed confidence and commerce in many urban neighbourhoods.
Finally, Grogan cites the "unshackling of inner-city life from giant bureaucracies" in the welfare system, public-housing authorities and public schools.
After years of resistance, reforms such as welfare-to-work, resident management of public housing and charter schools are beginning to gain acceptance, with mostly positive results.
Source: Clarence Page, Back to the City: Reversing 'White Flight,' Chicago Tribune, September 3, 2000.
For more on Business Environment
Publish date: 28 September 2000
The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.