Tag Archives: development

Businessweek on ‘The Fall of Niagara Falls’

Really interesting article in this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek about Niagara Falls, New York, and some of the problems it faces despite being next to what is litterally one of the largest tourist attractions in the world.

The article details how Niagara Falls

“encompasses just about every mistake a city could make… a 1960s mayor’s decision to bulldoze his quaint downtown and replace it with a bunch of modernist follies. There was a massive hangar-like convention center designed by Philip Johnson; Cesar Pelli’s glassy indoor arboretum, the Wintergarden, which was finally torn down because it cost a fortune to heat through the Lake Erie winter; a shiny office building known locally as the “Flashcube,” formerly the headquarters of a chemical company and now home to a trinket market. Once a hydropowered center of industry, Niagara Falls is now one of America’s most infamous victims of urban decay, hollowed out by four decades of job loss, mafia infiltration, political corruption, and failed get-fixed-quick schemes.”

My take-away after reading this article: cities can’t look for ‘silver bullet’ fixes. Convention center. Giant mall. Casinos. Sounds like Niagara Falls has tried everything with little success.

A new mayor has made some folks optimistic, the story explains, by promoting eco-tourism and trying to attract companies that specialize in alternative energy.

What do you think after reading this story?

I’ve been to the Falls a number of times, but always to the Canadian side, never to the New York side.

-KG

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Filed under Crime, Economic Development, Featured, Great Lakes, Politics, The Media

Las Vegas Keeps Building

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Above: The party’s not over in Vegas.

Some urban thinkers thought one silver lining of the economic crisis could be a slowdown in unsustainable sprawl, particularly in overbuilt areas of the southwest, like Las Vegas.

But that appears not to be the case at all, according to this New York Times story.

Despite home prices having declined 60 percent in four years, and despite the fact that there are nearly 10,000 empty homes with 5,600 more expected on the market soon, the Times reports, “builders here are putting up 1,100 homes, and they are frantically buying lots for even more.”

The story goes on say, “Some of the boom-era homes, meanwhile, are in developments that feel like ghost towns. And many Americans will always believe the latest model of something is their only option, an attitude builders are doing their utmost to reinforce…’We’re building them because we’re selling them,” a marketing executive with one builder told the paper. ‘Our customers wouldn’t care if there were 50 homes in an established neighborhood of 1980 or 1990 vintage, all foreclosed, empty and for sale at $10,000 less. They want new. And what are we going to do, let someone else build it?’ ”

How much longer can this go on?

Meanwhile, from last week’s Wall Street Journal, Detroit is preparing to tear down 10,000 homes, including Mitt Romney’s childhood home.

-KG

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Filed under Economic Development, Featured, regionalism, sprawl, The Housing Crisis, The Media, Urban Farming