A plan by Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to concentrate services and resources into compact urban centers and allow other parts of the city to depopulate has been on hold for more than two years, but the idea got a shot in the arm from a $150 million Kresge Foundation gift. Kresge, based in Troy, Michigan, made the gift specifically to get the plan moving again. It includes $120 million in new funding beyond previously announced programs. The money will be distributed over five years. The foundation has invested more than $100 million in Detroit in the past decade to fund a new trolley line, build a riverfront promenade, and construct greenways, the Wall Street Journal reports. Detroit lost a quarter of its population in the last decade alone, and is now stands at around 700,000 people — down 62 percent from its peak in 1950. The city can no longer afford to maintain services over its 139 square miles, Bing says. Never a very densely populated city, many neighborhoods are now virtual ghost towns. Nevertheless, the city enjoys tremendous historic and cultural assets. The Detroit Future City plan calls for focusing growth in seven to nine population centers. "It is a fundamental belief on our part that every dollar we spend simply has to reinforce the spirit, the letter and the intent of this plan," said Rip Rapson, CEO of the Kresge Foundation, told reporters.
HUD recently announced $109 million in Choice Neighborhoods grants for four cities — Cincinnati, Seattle, San Antonio, and Tampa. The funding to "transform distressed communities" leveraged $393 million in private and local funds. Choice Neighborhoods is a less funded successor to HOPE VI, a program that spanned the better part of two decades and invested $6 billion in public housing redevelopment, leveraging some $50 billion in local and private funds. “HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative supports local visions for how to transform high-poverty, distressed communities into neighborhoods of opportunity,” said HUD secretary Shaun Donovan. “We’re emphasizing a comprehensive approach to revitalizing neighborhoods by considering the totality of a community with regard to health, safety, education, jobs and quality housing in mixed-income neighborhoods.” The image above is from the Yesler neighborhood in Seattle, 2010 Sustainable District Study.
Richard Florida is fond of saying that historic buildings are irreplaceable treasures for cities and towns, but sometimes turning them into new uses is expensive and requires a boost from government. The City of Baltimore approved a tax break to allow an 11-story Beaux-Arts Provident Bank Building to be converted to 102 apartments with ground-floor retail. The developer will get an 80 percent reduction in taxes for 10 years and then stepped-down reductions ending on year 20, according to this report in the Baltimore Brew. Total value of tax abatement: $3-4 million. The developer will also get historic tax credits and state enterprise zone credits for the $19 million project.