||Strengthen and Direct Development to Existing Communities
What Does It Mean to Strengthen and Direct Development to Existing Communities?
Despite its liberal reputation, Minnesota is a state of conservative values. Rather than splurge on a new car we tend to drive the old one a bit longer. Rather than buy a new house we tend to remodel the old one. Unfortunately, those values don’t seem to hold when building our communities. We routinely discard the old to build the new. In recent decades, hundreds of schools have been closed in older areas, replaced by new ones built on new ground. Old shopping centers are routinely discarded for newer ones on the edge of town. Rather than fill in the scores of empty blocks in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, offices have been built almost exclusively in the suburbs.
What’s wrong with this picture? Plenty. The continuing decentralization of jobs compels people to drive more, ignores the transit option, adds to air pollution and global warming, uses more energy (including imported oil), and costs more to service with new utilities. In other words, it’s a wasteful trend that runs against our conservative values of using fully what we already have before acquiring something new.
As cities like Boston, New York, Seattle, Chicago and Denver have discovered, young talent is drawn especially to vibrant older cities.
|One accounting showed that over the past decade, new suburban office space had outpaced new downtown space by more than 20 to 1.
What Development to Existing Communities Is NOT
- Boarded up town centers and main streets
- Building on new plots of land farther and farther out of town
Benefits of Development to Existing Communities
- Creates a level playing field so that reusing older areas can be made competitive
- Encourages efficiency, the hallmark of the new economy, by reusing older buildings and older communities
- Makes the region more competitive
- Attracts young talent to the community
- Excelsior-Grand in St. Louis Park
- Partial redevelopment of the Warehouse District, North Loop and Mills districts in downtown Minneapolis
Challenges to Development to Existing Communities
- Showing bankers, developers and public officials the full costs of developing as usual
- Reforming our laws, codes and practices in ways that remove built-in incentives that encourage far-flung development and discourage the reuse and redevelopment of older properties