De-urbanization _ US Cities May Have to Shrink to Survive

Razing deserted suburb and returning the land to nature + relocating peoples and public services and densifying city center. Flint Michigan

The U.S. government is considering replicating a pioneering de-urbanization effort in Flint, one of the poorest U.S. cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature. Local politicians in Flint believe the city must shrink by as much as 40%, concentrating the diminishing population and local services into a more viable area.

Flint was the original home of General Motors, which once employed 79,000 local people. Today GM employs about 8,000, and unemployment is now approaching 20%. The total population has declined to about 110,000 – almost 50% of what it once was. The exodus – especially of young people – along with the consequent collapse in property prices, has entire sections of the city almost completely abandoned.

Flint's recovery efforts have been helped by a new state law passed a few years ago which allowed local governments to buy up empty properties very cheaply. They could then knock them down or sell them on to owners who will occupy them. The city wants to specialise in health and education services, both areas which cannot easily be relocated abroad.The local authority has restored the city's attractive but formerly deserted centre but has pulled down 1,100 abandoned homes in outlying areas. Mr Kildee estimated another 3,000 needed to be demolished, although the city boundaries will remain the same.

Already, some streets peter out into woods or meadows, no trace remaining of the homes that once stood there. "Much of the land will be given back to nature. People will enjoy living near a forest or meadow," Dan Kildee aid.

Posted by etienne mares / 11.5 years ago / 7574 hits