Tuesday, September 08, 2015

"Small-scale developers around the county ... organizing around their central goals of revitalizing communities, one small lot at a time."

“There is no lack of places in the country where there is opportunity to renew more walkable communities, places that have the bones for this kind of economic success. People have lived in these places a long time, but they haven’t had the benefit of building the wealth for living there a long time.”
-- Jim Kumon (from the article)

As Jeff G pointed out on Fb, New Albany already has the bones, as well as a handful of precisely such developers. In fact, together with local entrepreneurs, they're responsible for a disproportionately high percentage of projects that have combined to create a measure hope for the historic business district.

And yet, the emphasis remains on corporate welfare and the usual smorgasbord of abatements and incentives for big ticket, plaque ready projects. I differ with this attitude. Given that these small-scale developers don't depend on corporate welfare, I think it's the city's job to get the other pieces of the puzzle, primarily infrastructure, into place.

This article is a great example of how little bits of progress add up to tangible and sustainable gains, resulting in the sort of business floor, upon which the large projects can be conceived and implemented organically, without so much need for taxpayer-subsidized fertilizer.

Developers Build Walkable Neighborhoods With Focus on Community Wealth, by Oscar Perry Abello (Next City)

 ... (Monte Anderson is one of a growing group of small-scale developers around the county that is organizing around their central goals of revitalizing communities, one small lot at a time. They typically don’t rely on local tax subsidies or other incentives, and beneficiaries are usually local entrepreneurs and neighborhood residents. They favor walkable, mixed-use, mixed-income, racially diverse communities.

Through the Congress for the New Urbanism, several of them got together and this year began gathering common resources and organizing a small-scale developer program, including small-scale developer boot camps. The first boot camp was in Duncanville, Texas, one of the communities where Anderson works. There are two more scheduled for later this month in Maine and New Hampshire, and one in Atlanta, Georgia, in October ...

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