Combating Blight w/Carless Development

Cities are investing in downtown neighborhood developments stocked with dense, transit-friendly amenities to fuel economic growth. How is your city avoiding blight?


What Happened?

A hamlet in Long Island is being transformed into a thriving urban center amid suburban settings. The downtown development features amenities seen in dense cityscapes, aiming to pull the neighborhood out of blight and into prosperity with economic development.

Goal

Wyandanch Village is a $500 million development project creating a high-density downtown area where suburban efforts have failed in the past. The project is being fueled by public and private funds to build:
  • Storefronts
  • Offices
  • Apartments
  • Parks

Developers have acknowledged the growing trend in carless neighborhoods. Thus, the projects will all be centrally located around major transit points for trains and buses, the New York Times reported.

The hamlet project has been a long time coming, as nearly 70 properties had to be acquired and demolished, while infrastructure had to be installed – including sewers, sidewalks and street lights. Now, the village can start building out a larger train station, parking garages and recreational green space to completely alter the look of the neighborhood, the New York Times reported.

The project received $93 million in public funds from federal, state and local sources, with the remaining costs taken on by private investors. Public funds were used for stage-setting improvements, while private funds will construct mixed-use buildings to support commercial and residential growth. Retailers entering the village will enjoy 15-year tax abatements, while new parks and an ice skating rink will host community events year-round, the New York Times reported.

Downtown Redevelopments

Many cities are funding construction projects in key downtown locations to boost economic development and support a less car-friendly urban population.

The Michigan Strategic Fund has awarded a $195,310 Community Development Block Grant to improve downtown Marine City. The funds will be used to redevelop the facades of three vital buildings in the area: the Snug Theater, Rivera Restaurant and a vacant building along Broadway street. The city is also accessing other federal grants with matching funds from the city to rejuvenate other historic buildings and attract residents and businesses back to the area.

Similarly, the Baggage and Carriage building in downtown Portland may be redeveloped into a food and retail marketplace with creative office space on top floors to attract startups and small businesses to the city. The 130-year old building will maintain its historic charm, but will be retrofitted with energy-efficient amenities and resources for businesses, Portland Business Journal reported.

A private design-build firm acquired the building for $1.75 million and has a $5 million renovation strategy planned. The developers are working collaboratively with the city to acquire the funding to complete the project.

Sioux City is also rejuvenating a historic downtown building, and seeking a state grant to help fund the project. The Sioux City Hotel & Conference Center is located near a city-owned convention center. If the hotel is modernized, it could accommodate more visitors and attract more events, which could increase economic activity in the downtown region, Sioux City Journal reported.

The Sioux City Economic Development official is seeking an Iowa Reinvestment District grant to pay for the project. If funded, project leaders expect the redevelopment to generate $100 million in state hotel and sales tax revenue.

The New Downtowns

Gov1 has reported on several downtown redevelopments that focus on economic growth and access to transportation.

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