The following is a post I made to the Alabama Economic Forum on Linked in. Unfortunately the forum only has about 44 members so I may need to post in another place. Hopefully it will get shared by some.
Great Places are great economic engines
The places we love, the ones we will go back too. The same ones we tell others about, and the ones we promote. Weather they are places comprised of single uses such as great parks, business centers or residential areas, or great places which provide a diversity of all land uses, these are places we support. Places where community takes place and our values can be seen in our physical environments and can shape and reflect them.
These are places we support and revisit. Places we take care of and places that are economically successful. When we build places such as these, that are based on our values and designed from visions of public consensus, we create place where the market can flourish.
I am currently reading the articles in the Birmingham section on the Councilwoman’s plan fro reinvigorating a place that is failing. Business are leaving, stores are closing and vacancy is growing. We have stopped visiting. The market is responding.
I do not believe it is our job to dictate the will of the market, to try and plug in new business in places where similar businesses failed.
The place needs to be redeveloped. The place needs to be designed to allow the market to function. To allow business and opportunities to occur. To create these types of places we must design them from the community, with the community and for the community they are located in, because the place’s very survival, use and reuse is dependent first on its community, then on everyone else who comes.
As we think about development and redevelopment we must understand the larger context, and the larger picture of place. Are these places we will visit, to stop, to shop, to come back to? Are these places built so they can be independent, with a variety of housing types, densities and uses that can be self reliant? Are these places we will support? As we develop and redevelop and think of plugging in new business, lets first spend time to see if we need to redesign the place, so that instead of demanding a business succeed, we create places that encourage, support, nurture and allow business to succeed.
Of course this is just one planners opinion on economic development and place making.