The Benefits of Community Planning Committees

Tom Angotti discusses community planning committees in New York for Sale. He discussed the Cooper Square Alternate Plan which was the first community plan in New York City that worked to build and preserve low-income housing and after four decades became the model alternative to the private real-estate market. The Cooper Square plan influenced other community plans such as the Melrose Commons Plan that worked to preserve low-income housing in the South Bronx and hindered the top-down city-sponsored urban renewal plans.

The first Cooper Square plan was drafted in 1961 in regards to urban renewal in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. In order to prevent the displacement of low-income minorities, primarily Latinos, in the neighborhood, community organizers sparked the trend of community planning by gaining the support of elected officials, revised plans several times and withstood scrutiny from conservatives. Continue reading “The Benefits of Community Planning Committees”

Gentrification and Industry Displacement

In Winfred Curran’s article ‘From the Frying Pan to the Oven’: Gentrification and the Experience of Industrial Displacement in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, he discusses the effects of gentrification in Williamsburg on the industry in the neighborhood. Curran explains that gentrification is the migration of upper-income people, that are often professionals, managers and technicians, into neighborhoods that drive out lower-income residents. However, gentrification also displaces industry as lofts become attractive to developers who can turn them into residencies and make large profits. Although manufacturing does not play a large role in the urban economy, it still provides job opportunities for many low-income and uneducated immigrants and the industrial displacement deprives them of this livelihood. Curran argues that the industrial displacement is not an unfortunate result of gentrification, but is a consequence from the changing real-estate market that can be prevented.

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CBAs: A Voice for the People or a Tool for Developers?

In Naved Sheikh’s Community Benefits Agreements: Can Private Contracts Replace Public Responsibility, he discusses community benefits agreements or CBAs. Private developers began to work on public developments in the 1970s when the federal government and state government began to stop providing funding to cities for development. In CBAs are collaborations between the public and private developers. this type of collaboration, a private developer takes into account the public’s wishes in development projects such as establishing affordable housing and preferential hiring for residents. The initiative put forth by CBAs has worked in Los Angeles, California. In Los Angeles, a CBA was established that reached an agreement with developers attempting to create a Staples Center II. In the 18-page agreement, the developers established community benefits such as parks, parking permits, and affordable housing. In exchange, community residents supported the developers’ initiatives.

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Union Square and the Collapse of the Working Class

In Sharon Zukin’s The Naked City, she discusses the development and change of Union Square and Fourteenth Street. The park originally opened in 1830 and boasted an exclusive neighborhood in which the area had excellent landscaping, elegant fountains and majestic picket fences that mimicked those of London. However, the upper class migrate out of the area with the steady northward movement of the commercial centers. Thus, Union Square transformed from an exclusive neighborhood to an entertainment center with theaters, restaurants and concert halls. This attracted many mass meetings and factory workers that were immigrants from Italy, Russia and Ireland. The migration of the working class caused Union Square to become an area of cheap shopping for poor workers from the original elegant residential and entertainment district.

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The Development of Cities and The Needs of Residents

In Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the author discusses how cities form and criticizes the way in which cities evolve and change. In her work, Jacobs describes how cities, and especially certain neighborhoods within cities, are unable to provide for the needs of its people, which should be the primary focus of cities. She looks to the neighborhood of North End in Boston and Harlem in New York City as examples. Jacobs explains that in North End, in the 1940s, there were rundown apartment buildings filled with poor immigrants from Italy that overcrowded the streets. However, when she returned twenty years later, buildings were rehabilitated and were less crowded and the streets and alleys were repaired and painted. The worst slum in Boston had turned into a safe and habitable neighborhood. Continue reading “The Development of Cities and The Needs of Residents”