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krazeeboi

Shrinking cities reinvent themselves

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There was a good article in USA Today about how some older cities that are losing population are beginning to rethink strategies that help them serve their populations, and Richmond, VA was used as the backdrop. This includes things like promoting green space in declining/abandoned neighborhoods and even offering incentives for people to move out of abandoned areas as Youngstown, OH, has done. I thought this was a pretty good article, as everyone speaks of smart growth, but not "smart decline" as someone cited in the article said.

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This was a very good article. One thing I think we see on this site and heard from a lot of city leaders is that decline in population is a VERY BAD thing. However, it makes good points about cleaning up neighborhoods, re-using abandoned industrial, civic, and commercial properties. Also, even though you may have a population decline, you can still have more housing units thanks to smaller family units. So, while we "decry" the shrinking cities of the "Rust Belt", they now have a golden opportunity to right past planning wrongs and really make themselves showcases.

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I think there is a difference between a city losing population and a declining city. For instance, Virginia's independent city setup makes annexation by a city impossible, so that state's cities aren't able to capture the majority of the new growth (sprawl) like other Sun Belt cities are able to do (e.g., Charlotte, Phoenix, etc.). However, Richmond's metro area population, while not growing rapidly like the "booming" cities, is definitely on the up and up.

I think this article shows, in part, why these cities will eventually become popular once again. For some unknown reason, I'm banking on St. Louis to make a dramatic turnaround.

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One thing this article brings to a good point, is that the demographic of people wanting to live in established cities consist of singles, empty-nesters, single parent families, and families with less than 2 children. Much less than most of our older cities were designed for. I guess this could also cause densities to further decrease even with more housing units?

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That's exactly what has happened. Minneapolis has had a constant increase in housing units since 1950, but has dropped in population from 521,000 to a low of 368,000 in 1990. The city grew during the 1990s however, to 382,000, which was completely unexpected by the Census Bureau.

You're right though: Young professionals, empty-nesters, and smaller families (couples or with 1 or 2 children) are moving into the city again... but these will be the fastest growing demographics. Nuclear families with 2 or more children have been on the decline for years, and will continue to decline as people marry later and have fewer children. Also, empty-nesters are a growing very fast as a part of the population and they really want to rediscover the city after their entire lives spent in the 'burbs.

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I think there is a difference between a city losing population and a declining city. For instance, Virginia's independent city setup makes annexation by a city impossible, so that state's cities aren't able to capture the majority of the new growth (sprawl) like other Sun Belt cities are able to do (e.g., Charlotte, Phoenix, etc.). However, Richmond's metro area population, while not growing rapidly like the "booming" cities, is definitely on the up and up.

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139 square miles is more than enough land for Detroit, though. It's not a huge city like Phoenix, Houston..., but it's not small, either. The only cities I think one can legitimately argue not being able to capture the growth of the surrounding areas are those under 100 square miles.

Yeah, but more cities need to implement smart decline plans, even if that means encouraging growth near the cores of these cities, and discouraging growth where most of the city is already too far gone.

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Yeah, if the city wasnt land locked it could annex all the suburbs that people were moving to.

Im not saying that Detroit need to be any bigger. It needs to rebuild its neighborhoods. Detroit used to have more people than Phoenix in less than 1/3rd of the area, and it need to regain that density.

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Detroit still has more people in it's boundaries than Phoenix would have if it were 139 sq. mi.

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Great discussion! And I'm glad USA Today published the story using Richmond as an "example" city.

200,000 Richmonders, thanks to state law barring expansion, are crammed into 65 square miles which might partly account for the third highest inner city density among southeastern cities. Raleigh, I believe, has grown recently through annexation to more than 300 square miles and its population has increased to about 350,000

If Richmond could equal Raleigh's square mileage, we'd be at or beyond the half million mark.

Some excellent points were made in the USA Today story about reasons for shrinkage and how cities can work that to their benefit.

Thanks for starting this thread, Krazeeboi.

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No prob. :thumbsup:

Are there any other methods the city is employing that the article didn't mention?

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Were southeastern cities traditionally less dense? Minneapolis is only 50 sq. miles (5 of which is water), and the city has 380,000 residents. Maybe the cold weather causes people to build close together in order to retain warmth :)

Is the city experiencing any growth in its downtown area? That is very important because it brings people in, but it also drives up property values and increases revenues for the city.

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I'd say in general, Southern cities weren't significantly less dense, just a lot smaller. Charleston, for example, had a population of about 50,000 over about 4 sq miles at its peak. That was in the past though. The numbers you are looking at today with Richmand and Minneapolis represent more than the core of the city, and much more suburban growth, which we know is typically less dense in the South.

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The only cities I think one can legitimately argue not being able to capture the growth of the surrounding areas are those under 100 square miles.

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the majority of the new growth (sprawl) like other Sun Belt cities are able to do (e.g., Charlotte, Phoenix, etc.).

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Southern cities (and metropolitan areas) are less dense than in the Northeast, West Coast, and the "Rust Belt." This is the result two factors.

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What is your definition of sprawl? Because Phoenix is amoung the densest urban areas in the USA.

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stolypin pretty much hit it on the head. With a few exceptions, density of cities/urban areas have a lot to do with the time each of these cities boomed, and the other point of what each cities economy was based off of during it's boom also has major play in how particular cities developed.

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Urban areas as defined are not necesarily urban. A population threshold of 1000 p/sqmi is suburban/semirural at best. Even 10,000/sqmi is not terribly urban. The average pop density of places like NY, Boston, SF, Chi is over 10,000/sq mile over the entire city, but what makes these cities stand apart and seem truly urban on a remarkable level are the really dense areas up to and over 100,000/ sqmi.

The urban area definition is arbitrary. It favors large scale low density development which tends to be auto centric. Large urban areas are common in the west where ones expects mountains. Most of these cities are actually on flat dry plains where large scale bulldozing is possible to produce street grids, patio homes and shopping centers.

Equating a large or dense urban area ( both are predicated on the deceiving definitiion of an urban area) with a truly urban city is very misleading. If you want an urban experience, and base your visit on urban area definitions, you might go to Pheonix, San Jose and SLC and will probabl be disappointed. There's nothing wrong with those cities, they just aren't very urban. Even LA is not great for urbainity over most of the city. Walkiing on Sunset, Melrose, Rodeo even Hollywood Blvd or DT is pretty boring. The fashion district DT is busy during the day, and losts of pictures of its vitality have been posted as evidence of te urbanity of LA. As a former retailer, I have been there inumerable times and know the area is considered dangerous and unwakable at night. It's dead at night anyways.

IMO the urban area as now defined should be called the suburban/exurban area at best. Some people from the south and west don't realize that the entires states of RI, MA, CT, and NJ are at or near 1000 ppl/sqmi. The state doesn't make the urban area definition because of non-contiguous sqaure mile tracts. However, in these states when you leave the city (which is generally truly urban if its large) the population density never goes very low for many many miles.

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That depends on your definition of urban.

urban {sodEmoji.{sodEmoji.|}}??rb?n{sodEmoji.{sodEmoji.|}}

adjective

in, relating to, or characteristic of a city or town : the urban population.

Urban does typically mean dense, but it does not have to. Generally urban (in the sense of "urban area") means those places that are not considered rural, which would include suburbs and other relatively low density developments

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