Rebuilding Urban Neighborhoods: Achievements, Opportunities, and Limits


Edited by: W. Dennis Keating & Norman Krumholz

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  • Cities & Planning Series

    The Cities & Planning Series is designed to provide essential information and skills to students and practitioners involved in planning and public policy. We hope the series will encourage dialogue among professionals and academics on key urban planning and policy issues. Topics to be explored in the series may include growth management, economic development, housing, budgeting and finance for planners, environmental planning, GIS, small-town planning, community development, and community design.

    Series Editors

    Roger W. Caves, Graduate City Planning Program, San Diego State University

    Robert J. Waste, Department of Political Science, California State University at Chico

    Margaret Wilder, Department of Geography and Planning, State University of New York at Albany

    Advisory Board of Editors

    Edward J. Blakely, University of Southern California

    Robin Boyle, Wayne State University

    Linda Dalton, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

    George Galster, Wayne State University

    Eugene Grigsby, University of California, Los Angeles

    W. Dennis Keating, Cleveland State University

    Norman Krumholz, Cleveland State University

    John Landis, University of California, Berkeley

    Gary Pivo, University of Washington

    Daniel Rich, University of Delaware

    Catherine Ross, Georgia Institute of Technology


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    Series Editors' Introduction

    The study of cities is a dynamic, multifaceted area of inquiry that combines a number of disciplines, perspectives, and time periods, as well as numerous actors. Urbanists alternate between examining one issue through the eyes of a single discipline and looking at the same issue through the lenses of a number of disciplines to arrive at a holistic view of cities and urban issues. The books in this series look at cities from a multidisciplinary perspective, affording students and practitioners a better understanding of the multiplicity of issues facing planning and cities, and of emerging policies and techniques aimed at addressing those issues. The series focuses on traditional planning topics such as economic development, management and control of growth, and geographic information systems but also includes broader treatments of conceptual issues embedded in urban policy and planning theory.

    The impetus for the Cities & Planning Series originates in our reaction to a common recurring event—the ritual selection of course textbooks. Although we all routinely select textbooks for our classes, many of us are never completely satisfied with the offerings. Our dissatisfaction stems from the fact that most books are written for either an academic or practitioner audience. Moreover, on occasion, it appears as if this gap continues to widen. We wanted to develop a multidisciplinary series of manuscripts that would bridge the gap between academia and professional practice. The books are designed to provide valuable information to students/instructors and to practitioners by going beyond the narrow confines of traditional disciplinary boundaries to offer new insights into the urban field.

    Dennis Keating and Norman Krumholz lead a distinguished group of authors in the timely and provocative text Rebuilding Urban Neighborhoods. They succeed in avoiding the usual pitfalls of edited texts by providing a coherent framework for understanding the limitations of urban policy, and by presenting a diverse yet complementary set of case studies that reveal the reality of community revitalization efforts to date. The case studies are rich, original discussions of local experiences in community rebuilding. Whether exploring the contradictions of efforts to revive South Central Los Angeles or negotiating the politics of Atlanta's Olympic Stadium project, the authors succeed in extending our understanding of the common threats and potential of urban communities to rebuild their social and economic foundations. The cases provide a portrait of the distinct character of individual communities, but they reveal even more vividly the commonality of human struggle and resilience in the face of daunting challenges. The book takes us on a journey through some of America's most important policy terrain and challenges us to consider new pathways of thought and action.

    Roger W.CavesSan Diego State University
    Robert J.WasteCalifornia State University at Chico
    MargaretWilderUniversity of Delaware


    The late 20th century in the United States can be regarded as the best and worst of times. The U.S. economy continues a historically protracted period of prosperity and growth, the Cold War is over and the hopes for peace are more optimistic and realistic, and a new millennium beckons. Yet, many whose jobs have been eliminated or who are not prepared for work in the information age are losing ground. The real wages of most American workers have been stagnant over the past two decades, while the wealthy have grown more so. The gap between rich and poor has been widening. Despite advances in racial understanding, the United States remains a racially divided society in all too many ways. Racial preference policies have become a political lightning rod. An attempted national dialogue on race in 1998 failed to take off. Many American cities have redeveloped their downtowns, reshaping their skylines, riverfronts, and harbors at enormous public expense, yet they have neglected neighborhoods and concentrations of poverty that have grown. The gulf between affluent newer suburbs and declining central cities remains a continuing phenomenon across most metropolitan areas.

    This book seeks to understand the prospects for more successfully addressing these persistent urban problems in some of the most distressed and poorest neighborhoods in American cities. We look at the history of these neighborhoods and past efforts, mostly funded by the federal government, to solve these problems. In a conservative era of distrust of government when few national political leaders address urban problems, and when federal budget balancing, deregulation, and devolution of responsibility from Washington, D.C., to states and local government are all the vogue, it is difficult to see how such serious issues can be resolved. Almost certainly, there will be fewer public resources available to address persistent poverty in inner-city neighborhoods.

    As we and the contributors recount, however, there has been some progress in many of these neighborhoods. Even in devastated areas like the South Bronx in New York City, there are promising signs of revitalization. The key to successful revitalization efforts has been the participation of residents and of community organizations and institutions. Most prominent have been community development corporations (CDCs) and churches. These organizations have struggled against these discouraging urban trends and what seems to be indifference on the part of government, media, and those who do not reside in central cities. In the face of heavy odds, they have achieved successes.

    This book highlights some examples of these achievements. The contributors are also realistic in their appraisal of the difficulties facing the communities profiled and their residents. It is our hope that there will once again be serious attention paid to the still urgent urban crisis.


    We would like to acknowledge the excellent editorial guidance provided by Professor Margaret Wilder (University of Delaware), one of the editors of the Cities & Planning Series. We also thank Catherine Rossbach and the Sage Publications staff for their support. Harold Jackson of the Cleveland State University College of Law staff produced the manuscript.

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    About the Authors

    Thomas Angotti is Associate Professor in and Chair of the Graduate Center for Planning and Environment at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of Metropolis 2000: Planning Poverty and Politics (1993), Housing in Italy (1977), and many articles in professional journals. He has worked and written extensively on urban planning and community development in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. He is a Fellow at the American Academy in Rome, Associate Editor for America of Planning Practice and Research, Participating Editor for Latin American Perspectives, and Editor of Planners Network. He was previously a city planner with the New York City Department of City Planning and has worked for the state governments in New Jersey and Massachusetts. He taught at the graduate level at SUNY, Columbia University, Harvard, and the University of California, Berkeley. He holds a Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Policy Development from Rutgers University.

    Robert A. Catlin has worked as a professional urban planner with local governments and as a planning consultant since 1961 in Minneapolis, Southern California, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Florida. His teaching and research interests include planning history and theory, housing and community development, urban revitalization, neighborhood planning, land use policy, and race as a factor in planning and public policy formulation. His books include Racial Politics and Urban Planning: Gary, Indiana (1993) and Land Use Planning, Environmental Protection, and Growth Management: The Florida Experience (1997). He holds a Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate School (1976) and an MS. from Columbia University in urban and regional planning (1972).

    Mittie O. Chandler is Associate Professor and Director of the Master of Urban Planning, Design, and Development Program and the Master of Science in Urban Studies Program housed in the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Her work experience includes positions as a city planner and a public housing manager in Detroit. She has been active with numerous community-based organizations in Detroit and Cleveland. She is currently conducting an assessment of the Cleveland Supplemental Empowerment Zone. She holds a master's degree in urban planning and Ph.D. in political science from Wayne State University.

    Dennis E. Gale is Department Chair and Henry D. Epstein Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, Florida Atlantic University. He is the author of Understanding Urban Unrest: From Reverend King to Rodney King (Sage, 1996), Washington, D.C.: Inner City Revitalization and Minority Suburbanization (1987), and Neighborhood Revitalization and the Postindustrial City: A Multinational Perspective (1984). Formerly, he was Professor and Director of the Center for Washington Area Studies at George Washington University and a research director at The Urban Institute in Washington, D.C.

    Robert Giloth is a Senior Associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland. He manages investments in workforce development and community economic development. He recently edited the book Jobs and Economic Development: Strategies and Practices. Formerly, he directed CDCs in Chicago and Baltimore, and served as Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development in the mayoral administration of Harold Washington. He holds a Ph.D. in city and regional planning (1988) from Cornell University.

    Larry Keating is Associate Professor in the Graduate Program in City Planning at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he teaches planning theory and history, as well as housing and community development practicums. He is a cofounder of the Community Design Center of Atlanta (CDCA) and currently serves as Treasurer and frequent collaborator. CDCA conducts applied research on issues affecting low-income people and provides technical assistance in planning, architecture, and community and real estate development to low-income neighborhoods. He also codirects the Georgia Tech–Georgia State University–CDCA–Community Outreach Partnership Center. He has worked with the Peoplestown neighborhood since 1990. He holds a doctorate in urban and regional planning from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

    W. Dennis Keating is Professor of Law and Urban Affairs, Chair of the Department of Urban Studies, and Associate Dean of the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. He teaches and researches housing and community development, neighborhood planning, and land use law. He has authored numerous articles and book chapters. His latest edited book is Revitalizing Urban Neighborhoods (1996), and he is the author of Rent Control: Regulation and the Rental Housing Market (1998). He has participated in policy evaluations, which presently include the Cleveland's Empowerment Zone program and neighborhood planning. His Ph.D. in city and regional planning is from the University of California, Berkeley, and his J.D. is from the University of Pennsylvania.

    Norman Krumholz is Professor in the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Previously, he served as an urban planning practitioner in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. He was Cleveland's city planning director from 1969 to 1979 and was a member of President Jimmy Carter's National Commission on Neighborhoods. He is a past president of the American Planning Association (1987) and recipient of the APA's Distinguished Leadership Award (1990). In 1991, his book Making Equity Planning Work (with John Forester) won the Paul Davidoff Award of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. He is the author of numerous books, articles, and book chapters on urban planning practice, theory, and neighborhood development.

    Ali Modarres is Professor in the Department of Geography and Urban Analysis, California State University, Los Angeles. He is also the director of the Applied Research Program at the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs on this campus. He specializes in urban geography, and his primary research and publication interests are immigration, race, and ethnicity in American cities. He has published a number of articles on environmental issues, especially urban transportation and demand management policies, within the last two decades. He holds a master's degree in landscape architecture and a doctorate from the University of Arizona.

    Kenneth Reardon is Associate Professor in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he engages in research, teaching, and service activities focused on the empowerment efforts of low-income urban communities and serves as a faculty coordinator for the University's East St. Louis Action Research Project. He serves as the Co-Chairperson of the Planners Network, a national association of progressive civic leaders and planning professionals, committed to promoting social equality, racial justice, and a healthy environment.

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