Preserving the Urban Dynamic : Cities That Say No to New Malls and Superstores Are Enjoying Regeneration

By Brandes Gratz, Roberta | The Nation, April 23, 2001 | Go to article overview

Preserving the Urban Dynamic : Cities That Say No to New Malls and Superstores Are Enjoying Regeneration


Brandes Gratz, Roberta, The Nation


New Rochelle may be a small city in just another rich New York City suburb, but with the recent defeat of a proposed Ikea superstore, it symbolizes a significant turning point in the struggle of communities against the intrusion of big-box retailers. A modest neighborhood of homes, small businesses and two churches would have been condemned and demolished by the city in order to turn over the land to a supposedly better use--a 325,000-square-foot store, parking for 2,200 cars and two new ramps off the New England Thruway. Westchester County residents foresaw traffic-clogged roads, displaced homeowners, exacerbated pollution and negative effects on an array of quality-of-life issues. Public resistance was fierce.

Tearing down residential areas for the benefit of a national corporation is a throwback to the long-discredited methods of urban renewal czar Robert Moses. Other big projects that similarly undermine authentic urban places are falling apart in the face of potent civic resistance. Such defeats signal a positive trend in the regeneration of downtowns. Collapsed projects in Pittsburgh, New Haven and Baltimore mark the possible end of decades of highly subsidized, developer-driven, national-chain-based projects replacing forlorn downtowns that are nonetheless rich in local history, character and small businesses.

In Pittsburgh, which had more of its traditional heart left for organic regeneration than most American cities, a plan for a five-acre mall died when, after prolonged community protest, the critical anchor, Nordstrom, pulled out, declining a $28 million subsidy from the city. Pittsburgh's 1950s-style urban renewal plan called for demolition of sixty-two buildings of varying age, size and architectural style, dislocation of 120 businesses, lost tax revenue on top of enormous city subsidies for the new mall, endless disruption and no assurance of what would be built. This was the classic formula for killing downtown in order to save it, a strategy that has erased rather than rebuilt so much of downtown America.

In New Haven, a 1.2-million-square-foot shopping mall--probably as much retail space as downtown itself, near the waterfront but far from downtown--was permanently shelved, also because Nordstrom bailed out. State and city subsidies totaled $60 million. Opponents argued that this mall would undercut downtown businesses. Although New Haven's downtown was almost urban-renewed out of existence decades ago, new innovative economic life has been emerging on a modest but steady basis. Without competition from the mall, that momentum has a better chance to grow.

In Baltimore a plan to raze 150 buildings containing more than 100 small businesses in the city's onetime thriving retail center has languished in the wake of organized resistance to the use of the city's condemnation powers and the need for excessive state funding. In Baltimore's downtown district, modest regeneration has been taking hold. Several catalytic projects now under way create new residential, office, theater and hotel space. The sizable district near both Camden Yards and the University of Maryland has 150 historic buildings--from early-nineteenth-century Federal townhouses to rare post-Civil War cast-iron loft buildings to 1930s Art Deco retail stores, the kind of mix that offers endless potential for innovative reuse. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Preserving the Urban Dynamic : Cities That Say No to New Malls and Superstores Are Enjoying Regeneration
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.