Should We Shrink Our Cities? The Debate Continues

Posted by Morgan Clendaniel


Last week, Planetizen ran an essay arguing that shrinking cities (like what Dan Kildee is doing in Flint, Michigan) was not a helpful solution to the problems of urban decay. Now, they've published a response, which argues that the "right-sizing" plan going on in Detroit has the potential to be an excellent solution, and is potentially the only solution for an area with as bad a current urban situation as Detroit:

Unlike neighborhood-decimating urban renewal, Detroit's right-sizing program targets areas that have neither people nor intact buildings. Preservation is important but in many Detroit neighborhoods, remaining buildings are too burned-out or unsafe for rehabilitation.

Preservation-based regeneration examples such as Georgetown, Harlem or neighborhoods in Brooklyn are not replicable in parts of Detroit. Some Detroit neighborhoods simply have nothing left to revitalize. Georgetown's regeneration was supported by its proximity to the nation's biggest employer, the federal government, and a large private university. Harlem’s and Brooklyn's location in the New York real estate market was a key factor in their rebirth. Detroit has neither of these conditions.

Read the full essay at Planetizen here.

Image: Paper cut out from GOOD's GOOD 100 issue.