For about a decade now, revitalizations have been the rage in municipal redevelopment. In most cases, demolishing a site that’s fallen into disuse and putting up a low-cost pole building, a warehouse or modular construction is more cost-effective than restoring and re-purposing old structures and their environs. Revitalization requires vision; commitment; patience, and, often, a tenacious appetite for pursuing creative funding. It’s easy to understand why cities might not be anxious to embark on such difficult projects. The fact that some choose not to, makes the ones who do that much more worthy of esteem.
Few adults would prefer to live in a city that’s devoid of cultural history, the arts and uniquely attractive housing. Putting in effort and committing funds to a project like the one that’s turning around the near-downtown area of Dubuque, Iowa, which Julie Young writes about this month, is challenging for the time it takes for the project to come to fruition, the opposition of taxpayers, the legal hoops and so much more.
Communities that stay the course and successfully complete such initiatives consistently report reaping rewards from having done so. The revitalized areas are usually quite beautiful, attract commercial entities and responsible tenants and give the city as a whole a shot in the arm. They surreptitiously imbue a sense of local history while simultaneously providing all that is needed for 21st century life, and are capable of incorporating eco-friendly building materials and practices.
If well-managed after the revitalization is complete, these areas often develop into the most desirable locations in the city. Maybe someday I’ll have the opportunity to take up residence in an aesthetically-unique place where I’ll feel like I’m part of history, saving the planet, and the rebirth of a neighborhood all at the same time.
In this edition of The Municipal, we’re also talking about a historic site that doesn’t have to be restored because it’s still in daily use — the massive Dale Hollow, Tenn., dam. After that we’ll be looking beyond our borders, to the south.
The Municipal, South Edition
The Municipal launches a second magazine in October that focuses on the products, processes and issues that are important to cities in the south-central U.S., including Florida, the Mississippi delta, Virginia and the Carolinas. Come along with us! We value your opinion and your business.
Until then, have a good summertime.