Essay on Downtown Revitalization

Essay on Downtown Revitalization

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Revitalization efforts in downtown areas have gained momentum over the past few decades, this paper is focused on revitalization strategies, recognizing the process of decline, while identifying key strategies used in downtown revitalization efforts over the past fifty years (Faulk 2006). Downtowns, unlike suburban shopping malls or office complexes, evolved slowly over time, responding to changing technologies, social and economic patterns. A city’s identity relies heavily on the image of its downtown, so inevitably cities of all sizes commit themselves to achieving successful downtown redevelopment (Robertson 1995). As I have been reading literature on downtown revitalization a number of strategies and principles have surfaced. Many of the principles overlap in order to create a successful redevelopment strategy and there is no template for success. The strategies that I have identified and will explore are categorized in groups: 1) Pedestrian mall; 2) Indoor shopping centers; 3) Historic preservation; 4) Waterfront development; 5) Office Development; 6) Special Activity Generators; 7) Transportation enhancements; and, 8) Niche Strategies.

This paper will highlight successes and failures of each strategy, then use case studies to show how they have been applied in American cities. Case studies will include; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon, and Phoenix Arizona, all that have made extensive efforts over the last 40 years to revitalize their downtowns.

The Emergence and Decline of American Downtowns

In order to provide a perspective on American downtown development I have identified stages and eras through history that have had major impacts on their development. There has been extensive literature on development ...


... middle of paper ...


...ions for America. 2003. “ Viable Economics”. Solutions for America University of
Richmond. http://www.solutionsforamerica.org/viableecon/downtown-
revitalization.html accessed October 3, 2011.

Robertson, Kent A. 1995. “Downtown redevelopment strategies in the United States an
end-of-the- century assessment”. Journal of the American Planning Association
61:4 1995. pp. 429–437.

Robertson, Kent A. 1997. “Downtown Retail Revitalization: A Review of American
Development Stratigies”. Planning Perspectives 12 1997. pp 383-401.

Ward, David. 1971. Cities and Immigrants: A Geography of Change in Nineteenth
Century America. New York: Oxford University Press.

West, Darrell M. Orr, Marion. 2003. “Downtown Malls as Engines of Economic
Development, Community Spirit, and Political Capital”. Economic Development
Quarterly 17:2 2003. pp. 193-204.

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