Jeff Wood
Urban Reads

What to do with 45,000 Underutilized Government Buildings?

All the city news you can use.

By - Jul 19th, 2020 11:01 am
Carleton Elementary School closed in 2010. In 2019 a plan to convert the building into apartments stalled. Photo from the City of Milwaukee.

Carleton Elementary School closed in 2010. In 2019 a plan to convert the building into apartments stalled. Photo from the City of Milwaukee.

Want more links to read? Visit The Overhead Wire and signup. Every day at The Overhead Wire we sort through over 1,500 news items about cities and share the best ones with our email list. At the end of the week, we take some of the most popular stories and share them with Urban Milwaukee readers. They are national (or international) links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

The plan to run freeways through Santa Cruz CA: Most agree that turning this lively city that runs primarily on tourism into a freeway would be terrible for the economy. The history of Santa Cruz has been a long and turbulent one as the city has gone through a Christmas flood that allowed San Jose to dig its claws into the city, a failed annexation that was essentially gentrification, and a freeway rebellion; yet, through it all they have kept their character. (Ross Eric Gibson | Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Miseducation of an urban planner: James Rojas spent the better part of his career as an urban planner re-learning what he had forgotten from his childhood and lived experiences. Due to this, he proposes that while the education of urban planners is extremely organized and rationalized, what is needed is a better understanding of personal experiences the culture of communities. This will allow us to confront all inequities and design better spaces for all race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality, ethnicity and more. (James Rojas | Common Edge)

The stories of people fleeing the city are false: While the narrative persists that city-dwellers are preferring to move to suburbs rather than stay in dense cities in this time of a pandemic and contagion risk, there is minimal evidence to support this theory. While there are people who have left, there isn’t a large scale movement to the suburbs like the narrative suggests. (Jeff Andrews | Curbed)

What to do with 45,000 half-empty buildings: The US government owns an estimated 45,000 underutilized buildings and research suggests it is highly possible they could use these vacant spaces for affordable housing. There is a national affordable housing crisis that the public sector could bridge by following several steps with a multidisciplinary team to analyze requirements, identify properties and their values, and develop a transition strategy. (Sheila Botting | Harvard Business Review)

Asheville forms reparations commission to support the creation of Black wealth: The Asheville City Council apologized for its role in slavery and in an unanimous decision approved reparations to Black residents. While this will not bring direct payments, it will instead pave the way for investments in Black neighborhoods which are underfunded and devalued due to past racism. The wide disparities between neighborhoods have held back the city and this decision will help it move forward. (Joel Burgess | Ashevill Citzen Times)

Vanya Srivastava contributed to these summaries.

Quote of the Week

Even though the president has said that he wants to make this process more efficient and effective, it’s going to make it even worse, because it’s going to create more litigation and uncertainty. The controversy and the confusion around these projects is going to increase, rather than decrease.

Sharon Buccino of NRDC in Bloomberg discussing the Administration’s rollback of environmental regulations for the construction of infrastructure.

This week on the podcast, Miami Dade County Chief Resilience Officer Jim Murley joins the show.

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