The authors look at how municipalities can preserve and enhance their communities. Their method is based on community preservation: “empowering residents to become involved in local decision-making in municipalities, and seeks to preserve what is best about existing towns and cities while also encouraging changes and development that enhance sense of place as well as providing homes and jobs for new and existing residents.” One of the elements of community preservation is “keeping the best.” They paint a picture of the Northeast where the shift in manufacturing has created numerous large, vacant buildings. At first glance, these buildings “present a tremendous challenge to development officers” who are working to fix the community’s economic base. However, the reuse of these buildings presents social and economic development. These buildings offer: cheaper rent, opportunity to reinvigorate the surrounding properties, ability for the neighborhood to take part in the planning process, slowing the development of green space. While many of these properties may be contaminated (brownfields), their adaptive reuse means that the environmental ill will be remediated and removed from that community.
Benefits: economic benefits of job creation, wealth creation, and home ownership; ripple effect through growth in local retail businesses, commercial real estate development, and new services; better business environment due to upgrades to communication and transportation around reused sites; growth in mixed-use development; reduction in greenfield development.
Author: Elisabeth Hamin, Priscilla Geigis, and Linda Silka