Editor's note:This article is from the December 2012 issue of Better! Cities & Towns.
These historic settlements “have the largest untapped potential for fostering economic growth. They vary in size from a town of a few thousand people to small cities with a couple hundred thousand residents,” according to Investment-Ready Places: A Field Guide to Community Building in the New American Frontier.
Authors Kevin Lavelle, James Michael, Joseph Nickol, and Atul Sharma note that suburbs, which thrived in the latter have of the 20th Century, lack sustainability and diversity. “With the Baby Boomers and Gen-Y’ers both gravitating towards urban areas, Suburban Settlements are losing their appeal to the two largest segments of the American population.”
Top-tier cities, such as New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco, are thriving economically but now lack housing affordability. They have already gone through a renaissance.
Smaller historic settlements often have assets like universities, hospitals, ready access to water resources and farms, and manageable infrastructure. At the same time prices are relatively low for land and buildings, which are often underutilized, and labor, the authors say. “The New Frontier” in the subtitle underlines the suggestion that young people will find opportunity if they reinhabit these places, many of which have gone by the moniker “Rust Belt.” The take-home message seems to be that with a little elbow grease, the rust will come off and these communities can shine again.
Read the entire report at StreetSense.
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