The ownership society is working out just nicely. You can own your home as long as the government doesn’t want it for a shopping mall. Thank you very much.
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision today backing New London, Conn.’s economic development land grab may set the stage for another disastrous redevelopment era.
I’m a Connecticut native and worked as a newspaper reporter in that state for nearly 20 years, and I’ve seen little good come from the state’s urban economic developments efforts.
In the 1960s, New Britain, Connecticut, bought into the dream that every urban problem can be solved with a bulldozer.
It built a Y-shaped highway system through its downtown that destroyed neighborhoods and historic buildings. It relocated companies to industrial parks and built sterile, monumentally ugly brick apartment complexes for displaced residents.
New Britain lost most of its architectural heritage and soon most of its retail businesses. The highways made it easy for residents to travel to malls and shopping centers in the leafy suburbs.
Hartford, Conn., took a similar path. It obliterated historic areas and established neighborhoods along the Connecticut River to build “Constitution Plaza” – a concrete, soulless, lifeless wasteland of glass office buildings.
But Hartford didn’t learn. It’s now finishing a $1 billion project called Adrian’s Landing, which, I’ll boldly predict, is similarly doomed.
Not surprising New London is trying this bulldozing approach.
Connecticut’s wealth, its office parks and malls, are in the suburbs, not its cities. The cities are dealing with heavy property tax loads, populations that are skewed toward young, poor, aging, and fixed income. The schools are struggling and there’s crime galore.
These developments fix nothing. The architectural renderings are eye candy for desperate mayors who are out of money and ideas. Now, with this court ruling they can more easily buy into these development fictions.
This happens everywhere. Where I live today, in Washington DC., the government approved a baseball stadium in the hope it would spur economic development. Right.
Cleveland built a downtown stadium in 1992, and was ranked in 2004 by the Census Bureau as the poorest in the nation, with 31.3% of its population below the poverty level.
Ownership society? Someone has to pay. Thank You Supreme Court.