Are we there yet?

In the 50s-60s the Feds and locals came up with the Shaw School Urban Renewal Area (SSURA) plan. My question, it being 2007 and all, well I was wondering, are we done yet? Has Shaw been urbanly renewed? Or is it one of those government things that will never die and 30 years from now Shaw will still be renewing? Is there a DC neighborhood that has been renewed and the authors of it have placed their hands on their hips, struck a profile, and announced that their work is now done? If so did they get what they planned for?

3 thoughts on “Are we there yet?”

  1. It could have been revitalized effectively, then declined, and now it’s time to come back again.

    Silver Spring, MD went through a successful revitalization in the ’50s and ’60s, then went through a steady decline in the ’70s and ’80s. Now, it has been revitalized again. Some people note the completion of the Discovery channel headquarters in 2003 as the milestone of the recent redevelopment.

  2. a complicated question. The basic problem with the UR plans is that they weren’t appropriate for the city. They presupposed that cities were dying and the only way to resuscitate urban places oriented to walking was to reproduce them as spaces better reached by car.

    You see this best in SW, where the plan was implemented most completely. And how it continues to fail, and how hundreds of millions are being expended to redo the Waterside Mall area.

    But still, they depopulated the area, and then wonder why they can’t support retail and other amenities.

    Many of the Urban Renewal errors like strip shopping centers and malls, and maybe even garden apartments can get “do overs” over time.

    It’s tough politically though to redo housing. The low density church built housing all in that area will make it difficult to add population vitality to that area of the city, which it desperately needs, to support the kinds of neighborhood amenities that you would like to have.

    Plus it’s butt ugly.

  3. Oh, I disagree with the characterization of Silver Spring as revitalization. It’s redevelopment, much more like urban renewal. And once you get into that cycle it never ends. Because it’s focused on the planning flavor of the moment and is less organic say compared to Alexandria or Georgetown, which have different “revitalization” based strategies, although Alexandria has done a lot of new construction on upper King St. around the Metro.

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