Part of the challenge is seeing the potential of downtowns in new ways, and then devising new strategies -- zoning, redevelopment, planning -- to achieve them.
· Providence, Rhode Island: New Urbanists, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk (DPZ) did this in Providence, Rhode Island, where they reconceptualized the future of Downcity, a once-classic American business district that was dilapidated and forlorn.
To facilitate this vision, a new nonprofit community development partnership was created; design charrettes with all the players were held; and other private development projects were coordinated with Downcity's future. The redevelopment project offers an imaginative new paradigm for urban revitalization.
· A Mixture of Residential and Industrial,
New York: SoHo has become a model for other downtown revitalizations.
In the early 1960's a 10-lane expressway was planned for the industrial
area of lower Manhattan, through what is now known as SoHo. The expressway
would have made extinct four hundred sixteen buildings, 2000 housing units,
and at least 800 commercial and industrial businesses. Much of neighboring
Little Italy and Chinatown would have been wiped out. In response
to the plan, citizens hired an economist and planner, Chester Rapkin, to
determine the industrial base of the area. What was found was a wide array
of businesses, from furriers to makers of dolls, rags and wheel hubs.
Based on the findings, Jane Jacobs, urban critic and community activist,
helped galvanize grassroots support against the expressway and led people
to see that the area was still economically alive. At the same time, artists
began filling vacant lofts illegally, creating attractive, functional living
and working spaces. The arrival of the artists started an entirely new
vision of SoHo as both an industrial and residential area. With the
an upswing in the art market in the 70's and 80's SoHo became a healthy
urban neighborhood that provided and continues to provide an outlet for
innovation, new businesses and new substance to the local economy. SoHo
has become an example for other downtown revitalizations in such places
as Denver's LoDo, Seattle's SoDo and Pioneer Square, and San Francisco's