Professor June Manning Thomas introduces panel on the The Risk of Investing in the Central City at Taubman College's Risk Conference on Friday, March 30, 2012.
The Risk of Investing in the Central City
For much of the twentieth century, investing public or private dollars into any major U. S. central city was not much of a risk. In global or regional powerhouses such as New York, Seattle, or Chicago, this is still true. Yet, even in these cities, some neighborhoods or sectors may suffer major social and economic problems and thus not be as competitive as others. Some other cities pose an investment risk for almost anywhere within their borders; this is particularly true for "legacy cities," those which have lost major portions of their population and commerce over the last few decades and experience high vacancy levels. This panel will consider the spectrum of risk in public and private investment issues in such cities. It will include the "long view" of redevelopment and its historical effects on Baltimore in "risky" areas; the challenge of convincing residents in declining areas to accept the "risk" of redevelopment, as illustrated in two redevelopment areas in Philadelphia, and ways planners can overcome such skepticism; the ways that the public sector and developers have overcome challenges of investment in cities such as Detroit and Flint over the last few decades; continuing challenges of such investment and ways to overcome them while meeting goals such as sustainability and equity; and design principles that might govern future development in "legacy cities."