Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Local neighborhood stabilization programs: Part 5 | Adding energy conservation programs, with the PUSH Buffalo Green Development Zone as a model

-- "The need for a "national" neighborhood stabilization program comparable to the Main Street program for commercial districts: Part I (Overall)"
-- "To be successful, local neighborhood stabilization programs need a packaged set of robust remedies: Part 2"
-- "Creating 'community safety partnership neighborhood management programs as a management and mitigation strategy for public nuisance programs: Part 3 (like homeless shelters)"
-- "A case in Gloucester, Massachusetts as an illustration of the need for systematic neighborhood monitoring and stabilization initiatives: Part 4 (the Curcuru Family)"
-- "Local neighborhood stabilization programs: Part 5 | Adding energy conservation programs, with the PUSH Buffalo Green Development Zone as a model," 2021

In August 2020, I wrote a series of pieces about the need for focused neighborhood stabilization and improvement programs, particularly in weak market neighborhoods.  It recommended as a proposed model the reworking of the Main Street commercial district revitalization approach, but for neighborhoods, which the State of Pennsylvania has already done, calling it "Elm Street." 

-- Elm Street program, Pennsylvania Downtown Center
-- Elm Street Managers Handbook
-- Chambersburg Elm Street Neighborhood Plan 

Part 2 discusses packaging a set of remedies, so the programs can act expeditiously. To do that programs need to collect data and information and create maps showing the condition and state of properties, and identify potential solutions, including organizing community volunteer and self help/DIY initiatives such as the "Paint Ypsilanti" initiative that helped residents in the Depot Town neighborhood, when their houses were in need of a new paint job.

Part 3 discussed creating focused "community safety partnership" initiatives to manage and mitigate nuisances, and Part 4 discussed a particular example in Gloucester, Massachusetts involving shaming of a household that needed help in order to maintain their house and property which is large, old, and in need of serious maintenance.

Unfortunately, unlike how the "Main Street" commercial district revitalization program was fostered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, because they saw it as a way to help preserve historic buildings and towns, there just isn't a good national organization out there set up to take on, develop, and "spread" the Elm Street Approach across the county.

(Note that the Main Street model was developed from an initiative in Corning, New York, which started in 1964!!!!!!, where the town realized that to compete with new shopping malls, they ought to manage their downtown similarly, and they hired a downtown manager.  It still took 15 years from that point to develop the Main Street program.)

Energy efficiency programs to support low income residents.  There's nothing new about energy efficiency programs.  Most states have them.  HUD has programs that support energy efficiency retrofitting for seniors and low income households.  So do the Department of Energy including its Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs Office and the Environmental Protection Agency.  Even the USDA's Rural Development Program.  There are plenty of examples of nonprofit or social enterprise organizations working in this space.

-- Low-Income Energy Efficiency: A Pathway to Clean, Affordable Energy for All, Environmental Defense Fund
-- "Study Highlights Energy Burden for Households and How Energy Efficiency Can Help," Natural Resources Defense Council
-- ADVANCING ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: Lessons Learned from Low-Income Residential Experiences in Industrialized Countries, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
-- Energy Efficiency for Low Income Households, European Parliament
-- "Low-Income Households Pay A Lot For Energy. Efficiency Can Help Cut Costs," Alliance to Save Energy

El Paso Electric Power plant.

Although it has been getting a renewed focus lately, because energy efficiency is seen as reducing electricity demand enough to take the edge off of load and generation problems resulting from extreme weather such as what happened in Texas in February ("Cold wave: the Texas power debacle disproportionately impacts the less well off") and currently, with hotter temperatures ("Gov. Greg Abbott downplays electric grid concerns as Texans are told to conserve," KXAN-TV).


While it could be a stand-alone piece, since reading some pieces about how Baltimore's low income residents tend to have very expensive electricity plans ("Retail electricity deregulation mostly benefits companies at the expense of consumers" and "Why the Poor in Baltimore Face Such Crushing ‘Energy Burdens’," Inside Climate News) and a terrible story about low income people in Peoria having $4,000+ electricity bills ("OFF THE GRID: A flood of federal aid often fails to reach America’s poorest families," Washington Post), I think a fifth piece should be added to this series, because energy efficiency issues are particularly pressing in low income neighborhoods.

Helping people avoid $4,000+ electricity bills is a way to reduce the financial precariousness of low income households.

Minnesota Power Pyramid of Conservation, residential version

Other reporting.  Since the March piece ("Retail electricity deregulation mostly benefits companies at the expense of consumers") there's been more reporting on this topic, supporting the idea of a renewed emphasis on energy conservation as a strategy to support low income households..  

Low income households use more energy and pay more.  First, a study ("Measuring social equity in urban energy use and interventions using fine-scale data") published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that low income households and people of color spend significantly greater amounts on energy than higher income households ("Tackling 'Energy Justice' Requires Better Data. These Researchers Are On It," NPR).  From the article:

The researchers found that in low-income communities, homes averaged 25 to 60 percent more energy use per square foot than higher-income neighborhoods. And within all income groups except for the very wealthiest, non-white neighborhoods consistently used more electricity per square foot than mostly-white neighborhoods. The results were even starker during winter and summer heating and cooling seasons.

"This study unpacks income and racial inequality in the energy system within U.S. cities, and gives utilities a way to measure it, so that they can fix the problem," says Ramaswami, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton University who's the lead investigator and corresponding author of the study. It's part of a larger project funded by the National Science Foundation to promote 'equity first' infrastructure transitions in cities.

This seems to confirm the real world experiences reported in Baltimore and Peoria.

Energy conservation programs don't do a good job reaching low income households.  Second, Yvonne Abraham, a columnist at the Boston Globe, writes ("Energy efficiency is a low-hanging fruit to combat climate change. So why can’t everyone get access to it?") that energy efficiency programs in Massachusetts tend to extraordinarily benefit higher income households, that lower income households need more help, more outreach in order to reap the benefits.  From the article:

Though Mass Save is available to every ratepayer in the Commonwealth, those who live in affluent towns are more likely to take advantage of it: Participation in places like Bolton, Carlisle, and Hingham is up to seven times greater than in Lawrence, Fall River, and New Bedford. 

 “The program as designed works really well for single-family homeowners who have money to spend to make their homes more efficient, and who speak English,” said Eugenia Gibbons, Boston director of climate policy at Health Care Without Harm. For others, not so much. 

 It takes time, trust, and money to participate in Mass Save: time to apply for a visit and to meet with a consultant; trust that the energy utility, which administers the program, is really offering you something for free, with no catch; and money to pay your share of the subsidized insulation and boiler bills. All three are in short supply in places where blue collar workers, immigrants, and renters are concentrated. Language barriers widen the gap...

Those who live in less advantaged places need Mass Save the most: They’re spending as much as 15 percent of their disposable income on energy bills; they tend to live in older, draftier, less energy-efficient housing; and they suffer from poorer air quality and its attendant maladies, including asthma. 

We have to fix this, and not just for the sake of the underserved people who are paying into the system but not getting its benefits, though that is reason enough. Reducing fuel consumption anywhere in the Commonwealth serves everyone: It is crucial to our quality of life, and the planet’s survival.

It turns out a recent effort in the UK to promote energy conservation both as a jobs program and to reduce household energy costs was junked soon into the program because of mismanagement ("UK government scraps green homes grant after six months," Guardian).

This point is similar to those made in Parts 2 and 4 of the series, that there need to be programs packaged to implement and deliver revitalization solutions at the district/neighborhood and household scales, and that the programs need to be very proactive in trying to reach people.  

Not unlike the current issues with vaccination and the reticent, although the issues are subtly different, but also just in the ways the programs are designed.  For example, USA Today reports on success in Minnesota and failures in Michigan, which come down to how the programs were designed ("Michigan bet big on mass vaccine events for COVID-19. It didn’t work out as hoped").

Provide heat pumps?  Third, a piece in the Guardian ("Poorer households in UK should get free heat pumps, say experts") suggests that one way to promote energy efficiency for low income households is to just give people heat pumps.  From the article:

Households on low incomes should be supplied with free heat pumps in order to kickstart the market for low-carbon heating equipment and meet the UK’s climate targets, experts have told the government. 

 Heat pumps can currently cost thousands of pounds to install, but the more that are installed, the faster that cost is likely to come down. They are widely regarded as the best way to replace the UK’s gas boilers and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from homes...

About 14% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from heating the UK’s poor housing stock, most of which is also draughty and energy inefficient. The group also called for insulation to be made available to people on low incomes.

It reminds me of programs focused on assisting people in transitioning from coal furnaces and ovens to gas and electricity.  Utility firms to this day have programs that finance the purchase of furnaces, etc.

PUSH Buffalo Green Development Zone as a neighborhood revitalization model also. There should be renewed and refocused attention paid to energy conservation programs benefiting low income households.  One example is the PUSH Buffalo community organization's Green Development Zone.  The GDZ is comparable to various "ecovillage" initiatives (I can think of some in DC, Cleveland, and elsewhere) in the 1990s and early 2000s, as a revitalization effort.

It's designed to promote green jobs, equity, to achieve environmental goals, etc.  It's also a way to deliver energy conservation programs in low income neighborhoods (PUSH Buffalo’s Green Development Zone: a Model for New Economy Community Development, Building A “Community Growth Machine”: The Green Development Zone as a Model for a New Neighborhood Economy).

You could argue that the Green Development Zone is:

1.  another way to position a neighborhood-based stabilization and revitalization initiative and deliver programs ("HOW PUSH BUFFALO MODELS HOLISTIC, EQUITABLE AND GREEN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT," NCRP)

2.  that can be integrated with the "Elm Street Approach" that the series suggests

3.  with a greater focus on building economic benefits within the neighborhood for the residents (Community Economic Development Handbook: Strategies and Tools to Revitalize Your Neighborhood  by Mihailo Temali, "Lessons from CNN story on Allentown, Pennsylvania,") and 

4.  while building into the program more directly, equity and environmental justice.

Note there are other examples, including the Evergreen Energy Solutions division of Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, which also has a focus on solar energy.

Most states require utilities to provide programming along these lines (Supporting Low-Income Energy Efficiency: A Guide for Utility Regulators, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy), and that's great, but the idea here is to implement programs at scale in terms of neighborhoods, districts, cities and counties.

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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Development mitigation measures/proffers proposed by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston

 -- "MGH pushes ahead with nearly $2 billion expansion," Boston Globe

One interesting point made in the article is that the Massachusetts General Hospital campus has 27,000 employees, 78% who get to and from the campus by sustainable modes--walking, biking, and transit.  The Hospital is served by the very busy Charles Street/MGH Station on the Blue Line.

Bicycle parking.  While the project will add car parking spaces for a total of 971, moving them from the surface to underground, it will have more total spaces for bike parking, 1,043 than cars, with the addition of more than 500 spaces.  It also proposes bike lane improvements on Charles Street and elsewhere on the campus.

Public realm improvements.  It proposes a variety of improvements, including two outdoor plazas and a street arcade, wider sidewalks, benches, among others.

Photo credit.

Connecting the Blue and Red Line subways.  Perhaps the biggest mobility contribution is underground tunnel easement and other elements within the complex, to accommodate the extension of the Blue Line from the Charles Street/Massachusetts General Hospital Station, under Charles Street to the Bowdoin Red Line Station, thereby connecting the two lines.

This should spur the MBTA to move the project forward ("Red Line-Blue Line connection could be much cheaper than thought, study says").  They hadn't really prioritized it until three years ago, even though previous administrations had agreed to it as part of environmental and other mitigation measures although they have a target date of 2040.  From the article:

Supporters of the connector say it would make it easier to travel from Logan Airport, East Boston, and Revere — all on the Blue Line — to Red Line stops such as Massachusetts General Hospital and Kendall and Harvard squares in Cambridge. Switching between the two lines now requires a short ride on the Green or Orange lines.

The new estimate includes building a 1,500-foot rail tunnel under Cambridge Street from the Bowdoin stop on the Blue Line and new platforms at Charles/MGH station, where the lines would connect. It also includes the cost of moving utilities. 

It doesn’t include aspects of the project that could increase costs to about $500 million, such as designs, testing, any necessary modifications to vehicles, and finishing touches on the station, like adding elevators.

Since the new hospital construction project will be completed in 2030, MBTA should fast track this connection project so that it can open simultaneously with the newly constructed hospital buildings.

Community center space.  The project also calls for the demolition of a community center, and the proposal calls for providing space for a new community center in the development, along with a food bank.  

Affordable housing.  And a different building on the campus would be shifted to the provision of affordable housing.

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It's rare for nonprofit projects, even by large institutions like colleges and hospitals, to include mitigation measures in response to new building projects, which often come at the expense of existing operations.

To me one of the biggest is the cessation of the Seattle waterfront heritage streetcar service.  The Seattle Art Museum extended its campus, creating a sculpture park, and in the process eradicating the yard and maintenance buildings for the streetcar, without having to replace them.  

This is rare.

This rowhouse at 837 22nd St. NW, in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, was built in 1886. It's the last rowhouse on the block and it does not qualify for historical preservation protection. (Frank Leone)

Separately, George Washington University intends to demolish a historic, undesignated building on its campus, as part of a development project ("A District couple hope that GWU won’t tear down an old Foggy Bottom rowhouse," Washington Post).

DC's oversight of the GWU campus plan never imposed serious mitigation measures, especially around historic preservation.

GWU's expansion in Foggy Bottom has pretty much eliminated the residential and mixed use neighborhood that had previously existed, comparable to the impact of schools like New York University on its neighborhood.

Memorable transit proffers.  Boston has some examples of developer contributions to transit station creation such as Federal Realty Investment Trust's Assembly Row and New Balance's new headquarters ("New Balance Bought Its Own Commuter Rail Station," Atlantic Magazine) providing funding for the addition of transit and other mobility improvements.

A casino, the Pittsburgh Stadium Authority and other interests paid towards the extension of the T subway to the North Shore, serving a casino and stadiums for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers.

In Portland, Portland State University paid for station creation and other improvements for the streetcar, including providing access to the streetcar route within the campus, while Oregon Health Sciences University operates the aerial tram.

In New York City, SL Green constructed underground connections between subway stations, its building, and Grand Central Station ("Behind the rise of the 77-story One Vanderbilt," New York Post).

The New York Islanders are paying almost the entire cost for an LIRR station to serve their new arena ("Islanders arena project at Belmont Park now includes new LIRR station," Newsday).  The Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, and forthcoming Seattle Kraken hockey team pay/will pay local transit systems for transit access for ticket holders.

In DC, the city, federal government, and a TIF district taxing property owners each paid 1/3 towards the construction of the infill New York Avenue Red Line Station.

In Seattle, Paul Allen's Vulcan Investments, developer of the SoDo district, paid towards ("Paul Allen's major makeover offers high risks, huge payoffs," Seattle Times) the creation of the Seattle streetcar, to help facilitate his real estate developments (which was a particularly common method by developers during the streetcar development era).  

Subsequently, Amazon paid for additional streetcars and payment for operations to expand service.

Historically, the Van Sweringen brothers of Cleveland are perhaps the most remarkable.  They wanted to build a streetcar service to serve their developments in Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights but couldn't get right of way.  So they bought the Nickel Plate Railroad to get access to the railroad's existing right of way to include the rapid transit service.

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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Boulevard Gardens pedestrianized block in Salt Lake City

I've mentioned the book Pocket Neighborhoods by Ross Chapin, which is a beautifully written book about "courtyard housing," old and new.  

Such housing is rare, even though it has been constructed in various places certainly since the 1920s.

A kind of example is how Minneapolis pedestrianized the street for the two block Milwaukee Street Historic District in the late 1970s, or how "Exposition Boulevard" facing Audubon Park in New Orleans is a sidewalk faced by houses.

I happened upon an example in Salt Lake City.  I was cycling on the sidewalk and I probably wouldn't have noticed if I were on the street or driving,  (I hadn't noticed before and I've been on that block a bunch of times.)

It's called Boulevard Gardens, it was constructed in 1929, with 23 houses (one lot was never built upon).  I didn't check out the rear of the houses, apparently there are still some original garages extant.  Boulevard Gardens is historically designated, and was built as an early example of a "suburb" although these days it's decidedly in Salt Lake City's core ("Salt Lake City’s ‘street without a street’ is a 90-year-old hidden gem —one that homeowners and historians hope to preserve," Salt Lake Tribune).


There is another example in Salt Lake, although the housing was not for the middle class,  It's utilitarian and small, most likely  for railroad workers as it is down the street from the old Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad passenger station.  

The one story rowhouses are part of the La France Apartments "complex," fronted by 3-story tenements ("RESIDENTS SHOW OFF A FORGOTTEN WAY OF LIFE," Salt Lake Deseret News).  The buildings are scheduled to be demolished as part of a redevelopment project spearheaded by the Greek Church, which abuts and owns the buildings ("Massive new development would give Salt Lake City an upscale Greek Town," Salt Lake Tribune).

La France Apartment Rowhouses.  Photo: Leah Hogsten, Salt Lake Tribune.


While the Church states that it will offer the same number of affordable units in the new building, there are no plans to preserve the buildings, which are truly unique, not just in Salt Lake City, but nationally, as an example of this type of housing.

Like the case of the Redwood Drive In in West Valley City--Utah's fastest growing city, which may end up becoming larger in population than Salt Lake City ("Cultural master plans and Drive in theaters?"), this is a tough call from an urban planning standpoint.  The planner side of me says it's an acceptable loss, the historic preservation side says absolute no to demolition, because the property is so unique and distinctly relevant to SLC's urban residential and industrial history.  

Because the property is so unique, I would choose to save the property at some cost to density.

Interestingly, while there are extant examples all around the country, this particular urban design form was never widely adopted.

Milwaukee Avenue, Minneapolis








Exposition Boulevard.  The houses have garages or other access from the side or rear, and may have two different "front entries" one for the sidewalk, the other for vehicles.



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Revisiting stories: the need to provide programs to step in and deal with multiunit properties as they age

The Washington Post reports on the decline of the Marbury Plaza Apartments building in Southwest Washington ("Once a Black middle-class haven, a D.C. apartment complex falls into disrepair").  

Built in 1965, there are 672 units.  Elevators, air conditioning and other systems don't work, and the open air pool, still marketed as a featured amenity, hasn't been open for years.

Many years ago, responding to an article by John Muller about the state of housing in Anacostia, where he wrote about "abandominiums," I wrote a responase about how housing assistance programs need to consider owner assistance and multiunit properties, because as they age, they decline, and if the tenant mix skews to low income, it's not likely the owner has a large reserve fund for repairs.

-- "Deeper thinking/programming on weak residential housing markets is required: DC example, Anacostia," 2012
-- "Revisiting the need for "Tower renewal" (multiunit) programs," 2017

While this is an especial problem for lower income properties, it's also an issue with higher income properties (and one of the reasons that cooperatives are focused on attracting particularly high net worth individuals).

DC does have a program, for example, which funds energy efficiency upgrades, but obviously, problems with these types of buildings indicate that a more active program is needed.


The article discusses Toronto's Tower Renewal program, which provides special assistance to multiunit buildings in the city, especially to those that are aging.  Toronto has over 1,000 buildings, eight stories or taller, built before 1985, housing over 500,000 people, about 1/6 of the city's population.

-- Tower Renewal Partnership
-- "Reassessing the Recent Past: Tower Neighborhood Renewal in Toronto," APT Bulletin: Journal of Preservation Technology, 2011
-- Tower Renewal and Retrofit Finance, Tower Renewal Partnership
-- "Tower Renewal program," Urban Springtime blog, 2015
-- Tower Renewal Opportunities Book, research compilation
-- Affordability and Resilience: The Challenge of Tower Renewal in Private Rental Apartment Buildings, ULI Advisory Services Panel

Although another distinctive element of the Toronto program is that it focuses not just on individual buildings, but also "tower" neighborhoods.   By contrast, the HUD program focuses on individual buildings.

I wrote follow up pieces

-- "Tower renewal: The Watergate and Southwest DC, and Toronto," 2011
-- "The long term potentially negative aspects of condominium buildings as a dominant housing form in cities," 2016

the latter made the point that condominiums as an ownership structure work when the owners are wealthy and the building is new, and not so well when the property is old and the owners have limited resources to pay for special assessments for building repairs.

This also comes up with a historically designated property in Mount Pleasant, where some of the owner-tenants are asking to be allowed to not maintain a distinctive architectural element, outdoor terraces, because of the expense.

-- "Revisiting stories: condominiums as a tricky land tenure form, as maintenance costs rise over time," 2021

The problem will only get worse.

In the UK, especially with the demand for special assessment payments to replace outdoor panels that have been found to be particularly flammable and dangerous, people are losing the value of their properties, can't sell units, etc. ("Cladding scandal: flat owners fear bills of up to £45,000 for safety failings," Guardian).

While HUD does have a program for aged building repairs and upgrades not every property is eligible and funds are limited, cities need to take a more forceful and proactive role in working with aging multiunit buildings, to ensure the maintenance of a high quality residential built environment.

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Friday, June 11, 2021

Global value chain for bicycle manufacturing

Paul Krugman's e-letter today discusses global value chains and a more modern "industrial policy" in the context of the once forecasted superiority of Japan in the late 1980s, their later economic stagnation--although he points out that weighted for demographics, Japan's manufacturing production is comparable to that of the US--Trump policies, Biden policies, etc.

He mentions a report by the World Bank, World Development Report 2020: Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains, and how it uses bicycle manufacturing as a way to illustrate global production chains.

When I was involved in bidding for bike sharing programs c. 2010-2012, this was an issue.  Many of the programs used federal money, and the American Recovery and Reconstruction Act required "Buy American" when it came to steel products.  Given that bicycles aren't manufactured in volume in the US any more, this was an impossible provision to meet.



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Thursday, June 10, 2021

National Trust for Historic Preservation: 2021 Endangered properties list

 (It makes no sense to me that the National Trust for Historic Preservation releases its list of the "most endangered properties" in June, when National Preservation Month is in May.  2021 Blog entry.)

The National Trust for Historic Preservation released its annual list of most endangered properties last week.  This year each of the properties highlighted has to do with "people of color." 

While I think that's great, and as usual, all of the properties listed have interesting, important histories that are deserving of protection, I don't think NTHP adequately leverages the public media and communications aspect of the list to draw attention to "structural issues present that make preservation more difficult."

By contrast, Preservation Chicago, in their annual "Chicago 7" list of endangered properties, often features at least one example that illustrates a systemic issue, such as lack of teardown protections for heritage properties, etc.

For me, there are a bunch of issues.

1.  Conservative state legislatures that preempt of the creation of local historic districts. 

2.  Which is related to the rise of the property rights argument, and making it more difficult to designate properties or districts as historic, through the imposition of difficult rules, etc. 

3.  Lack of local protection legislation in general.  People get all hung up about being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but that only provides protection against federal action, not against anything else--especially private owners or local governments.

4.  Weak local laws, such as lacking protections against demolition, legislative or executive preemption,, etc.

5.  Teardowns and the failure to have design review requirements to maintain the architectural integrity of what are rapidly diminishing attractive places.

6.  Lack of revolving funds and other monetary sources at the ready to respond to threats to historic properties.

7.  Local government officials being more interested in new development rather than the protection of particularly remarkable historic resources.

Etc.

See:

-- "Without remedies there's nothing you can do: historic preservation in Chicago and DC," 2014
-- "Historic Preservation Tuesday: Saving buildings vs. the right to petition to redress grievances," 2015
-- "Preservation advocacy may be more successful when companies are vulnerable to public pressure: Baltimore County vs. Fairfax County, Virginia vs. Robbinsdale, Minnesota," 2016

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Utah Theater, formerly the Pantages theater, and part of a circuit of similar theaters in the Northwest.

In Salt Lake Ciy, the government is giving a historic theater to a developer for the site--after the building is demolished--to be incorporated into a tall apartment building ("With plans for a new downtown park, city moves closer to giving derelict Utah Theater to developers for demolition," Salt Lake Tribune).  It's true that the Downtown is home to other large performing arts facilities in preserved theaters.  But this building the Pantages is pretty amazing, at least before it was denuded of many of its distinguished features.

Tacoma

However, the city of Tacoma, Washington has preserved its Pantages theater ("Here’s a sneak peek inside Tacoma’s renovated Pantages Theater," Tacoma News-Tribune), which demonstrates just how remarkable the potential and opportunity remains with the theater in Salt Lake.  It now operates as part of Tacoma Arts Live, an arts presentation and revitalization initiative ("Tacoma Arts Live Releases Impact Report," South Sound Business).

Interestingly, apparently there is a mechanism that citizens can challenge the decision of the Salt Lake City Council, in a referendum, and there is an effort underway to do so.  Apparently it was not successful in getting on the ballot ("Movie buff chains himself to Utah Theater in last-ditch bid to save it from demolition," Salt Lake Tribune).

When places already have similar buildings preserved, sometimes it's hard to convince elected officials that it's worth preserving additional buildings.  To them, one or a couple is enough, three or more is too many, or unnecessary.

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Monday, June 07, 2021

University of Maryland could seed a complementary biotechnology and medical education initiative in Prince George's County

I have an extensive series of pieces about how DC could have used the reconstruction of a hospital East of the River to create a complementary medical education and biotechnology research and development initiative.  (It was based on a proposal I first wrote for the Walter Reed Campus in Northwest DC, but it was too late in the process and DC had no willingness to reconsider its very dull program for the site.)

-- "Ordinary versus Extraordinary Planning around the rebuilding of the United Medical Center in Southeast Washington DC | Part One: Rearticulating the system of health and wellness care East of the River," 2018
-- "Part Two: Creating a graduate health and biotechnology research initiative on the St. Elizabeths campus," 2018
-- "Part three: the potential for donations around an expanded program," 2018
-- "Update on DC's plans to build a new United Medical Center," 2018

Even though DC has failed to think big about the new East of the River hospital, that doesn't mean it can't be applied elsewhere.

With covid, I wrote a follow up piece mentioning the new University of Maryland Medical System hospital in Largo, how it's unlikely they are taking advantage of the opportunities for innovation in health care delivery and that were they to do so, incorporating public health initiatives would be in order.

-- "More communities need to integrate health care and public health programming: Prince George's County, DC, etc.," 2020

(The comment sections of the articles have a number of follow up citations of interesting, relevant programs and information that I have come across since writing the original pieces.)

But while writing the earlier piece today, "The East-West Divide | DC area regional economic development: anchors and where they are placed matter + airports | But military spending matters the most,"  it occurred to me that the University of Maryland College Park/UMMS could do what I suggested with the former Walter Reed Army Hospital Campus in Northwest DC or the United Medical Center in Southeast DC, for the new hospital campus in Largo in Prince George's County, which is part of the "east side" of the region that lags economically.

It turns out that the newly constructed hospital is opening this week ("Long-awaited new hospital in Prince George’s to open this week," Washington Post).  From the article:
The University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center, located near the Largo Town Center Metro station, originally was scheduled to open in 2017. But construction was delayed for years because of clashes about funding and the hospital’s size. The 620,000-square-foot, glass-paneled facility will replace the 75-year-old Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, which will transfer its patients this weekend.  ...

County officials are pushing for the hospital to anchor the creation of a bustling downtown Largo, where they are moving government buildings and actively recruiting businesses. They also want the hospital to compete with neighboring jurisdictions for top-flight medical talent, and to attract patients from Prince George’s who currently seek treatment outside the county. 

“What the hospital means for Prince Georgians, from a health-care perspective and from an economic development perspective, is that it begins the healing process,” said Prince George’s County Council member Derrick Leon Davis (D-District 6). “There’s a sense of pride . . . but also a sense that more is to come.”
FWIW, Largo's urban design is not downtown-focused at all, but very automobile-centric and the lots are very much hermetically developed in a way that is disconnected.  (Besides, I've already argued that Prince George's County should build its "downtown" out of New Carrollton, "Setting the stage for the Purple Line light rail line to be an overwhelming success: Part 4 | Making over New Carrollton as a transit-centric urban center and Prince George's County's "New Downtown".")

Plus, hospitals turn out to not be great anchors for commercial districts and spillover, because staff pretty much are given no time to leave the campus.  That being said, hospitals in Philadelphia have provided financial support to business improvement districts, and many hospitals (at least the ones that aren't broke) have provided mortgage assistance to staffers choosing to live in the neighborhood around the hospital.

The stakeholders are right on one dimension, Largo has lots of build out capacity.  Land is underutilized.  There is plenty of room in the area to add medical education and research facilities.  AND to change the urban design pattern.  I'd focus on that rather than "creating a downtown."

The UC San Francisco campus is focused on advanced medical education.  It was originally the "San Francisco medical campus" of Berkeley, but has been independent of Berkeley since 1964.

No reason that UMCP couldn't develop a health campus at Largo.  Probably University of Maryland Baltimore would see this as competitive but I see it as more complementary.  

And frankly, UMB could run the proposed PG County medical campus as they already have functioning medical, dentistry, pharmacy, and nursing schools.  College Park has only one health related school, in public health, but also Agriculture and Engineering.

As discussed in the original series, there is a significant projected shortage of physicians, especially primary care physicians, and with the failures in dealing with covid, ideally the country will begin to reinvest in public health.  And College Park is a step ahead, having a public health school already.

Creating a University of Maryland medical education and biotechnology research campus in Prince George's County would create a Maryland biotechnology triangle connecting Montgomery County (NIH, NIST, for profit biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies), Baltimore (JHU, University of Maryland Baltimore, biotech firms), and Prince George's County.

Photo: Robb Hill, via the Washington Post.

Note that from the "build it and they will come" approach to economic development [I should start using that as an index term], elected officials argue that by default the hospital will correct health inequities.  

... Many Democrats said that view didn't take into consideration the lack of medical infrastructure in Prince George’s, where residents disproportionately suffer from conditions such as heart disease and diabetes and there are far fewer physicians and hospital beds per capita than in neighboring jurisdictions. The county has 0.75 hospital beds per 1,000 residents, for example, compared to 1.47 in Montgomery County, 1.47 in Fairfax County and 3.42 in the District. 

Davis, who began pushing for a hospital in Largo when he was elected in 2011, said he still thinks the hospital should have more beds. He said he hopes that state officials support an expansion in coming years after seeing the toll of the coronavirus pandemic on the majority Black jurisdiction, which had the highest per capita case and death rates in the region. 

“Nationwide, covid highlighted the fact that there are significant disparities in health care for Black and Brown Americans . . . this hospital is going to be part of that recovery,” said former Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), whose administration signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Maryland Medical System in 2011 that led to the construction of the hospital.

I argue that building something isn't enough, you have to have a plan to address the inequities in innovative and novel ways.  Plan + building.  And ideally, a "transformational projects action plan" approach to boot.  

That's what the previous articles are about.  Also see:

-- "Health planning vs. hospital planning redux," 2006
-- "Piling on the hospital issue," 2006
-- "An opportunity for rethinking health and wellness care in the District of Columbia," 2006
-- "Speaking of rethinking how to offer "public services" and medical care," 2007
-- "Community Health Improvement Planning," 2019
-- "A glaring illustration of the need for comprehensive health and wellness planning in DC: Providence Hospital," 2018
-- "Rush Medical Center (Chicago) clues us into a gap in state and regional health care planning: planning for disaster and epidemic response," 2020

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In the original Walter Reed campus proposal, we proposed the development of health related graduate schools in conjunction with the Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park and the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, which has opened medical schools in other countries.

The Adventists have an advanced medical campus in Southern California, Loma Linda University, which has schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, public health, allied health professions, and pharmacy.

Like how the Texas Medical Center in Houston has multiple medical and health-related schools from different institutions, like Baylor and the University of Texas Health Science Center, there's no reason to limit it to just one.

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The North-Side Divide | Baltimore vs. Washington regional economic development | Still more industry in Greater Baltimore

Riffing off the previous entry ("The East-West Divide | DC area regional economic development: anchors and where they are placed matter + airports | But military spending matters the most"), I don't think that the Connected DMV report touches on Baltimore "versus" Washington economic development.

I write about it from time to time, including in response to a Baltimore Business Journal article a few years ago, where I wrote what should be a "north-south" regional economic development agenda ("Opinion: What Baltimore and D.C. can do to start working better together as a region (Baltimore Business Journal op-ed)," 2016).

1. Each metro needs to “get its house in order” by functioning and acting at a “best practice” level; 

2. More efficient physical connections need to be constructed within and between the metropolitan areas; and 

3. More attention needs to be put on working together — rather than reflexively choosing to be obstreperous, the first inclination needs to be to collaborate.

Baltimore used to be a major business center--in fact it was one of the nation's earliest centers for venture capital (Alex. Brown), but as corporations have consolidated (Alex. Brown, Legg Mason, T. Rowe Price, insurance companies) outside of the area, and as the US has deindustrialized--Baltimore used to be a major center for clothing manufacture, steel and ship production, and other production (GM had a plant there, etc.), in part because of the Port of Baltimore, that economic activity has declined.

Baltimore has regrown around its major universities, Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland in Baltimore, which is centered on the medical and health sciences.  Both universities have spillover economic development initiatives in biotechnology, which are quite significant, but pale compared to Boston, San Diego, and San Francisco.

University of Maryland College Park has been interested in leveraging the sister campus in Baltimore and its medical and biotechnology focus.  UMCP has an engineering college, but no medical education facilities.  It does have an Agricultural college and USDA has an experiment station and the National Agriculture Library in nearby Beltsville.  

The UMD Medical System (UMMS) is building a hospital in Largo, taking over the Prince George's Hospital system.  In the previous entry, I suggested that they could make a medical campus there in association with it.

Baltimore does have a tourist industry, although it has been dampened by the public safety fallout since the Freddie Gray death ("Broken windows/collective efficacy: Baltimore; Newark; Grand Junction, Colorado; Pittsburgh; Albany" and "Social urbanism and Baltimore").

Under Armour is a large producer and knowledge generator there, but it has had a problem moving to the next phase of development in comparison to major competitors like Nike ("How Under Armour Lost its Edge," New York Times).

I've argued that with Maglev, it would give another opportunity to redefine Baltimore's central business district as a major MidAtlantic business center, but I haven't yet written a post about it.

By contrast, DC has the advantage of the steady employment engine of the federal government and related contractors and such (lawyers, lobbyists, trade associations, etc.) and a transit network, and some federal requirements on maintaining various federal agencies in the city proper, which supports the health of the central business district and a thriving residential real estate market.

1.  My big thing is that Baltimore City and Baltimore County should merge, becoming the nation's 9th largest city, and redefining Baltimore's place and position in the regional, Mid Atlantic, and East Coast economy.

2.  Leveraging the Port of Baltimore even more, along with BWI Airport.  Maryland puts a lot of energy in maximizing the economic development potential of the Port.  According to Freightwaves:
The Port of Baltimore creates $3.3 billion in total personal income and supports 15,330 direct jobs and 139,180 jobs related to the work of the port. In addition, the Port generates nearly $400 million in taxes and $2.6 billion in business income.
Many ports have shifted to tourism-based activities.  Baltimore has managed to develop both, shifting to tourism in the Inner Harbor, while in Canton and Dundalk, maintaining and expanding economic activities focused on industry and maritime activities.

Can they do even more? 


Are there opportunities to shift the mix towards industry as opposed to consumption.  It's a big center for transshipment of cars from foreign countries like Japan.  

There is a cruise center aiming to make Baltimore a port of call for the cruise industry.

While there are maritime focused universities or colleges elsewhere in the US, Baltimore doesn't have one.  Rotterdam has a number of maritime-business focused education programs at its universities, including Erasmus, the Maritime & Logistics University of Applied Sciences, and the Netherlands Maritime University.

3.  Is the "aerotropolis" potential fully being captured by BWI Airport and are there linkage opportunities with the Port? ("Aerotropoli and rethinking the scale of mobility networks in the context of a global economy," 2013; "The BWI Aerotropolis: Is Now Its Time?," Business Monthly, 2016).

4.  Maglev could also help redefine the importance of the Central Business District.

5.  At the same time, Baltimore needs to build a true regional transit system comparable in scale and scope to DC's transit network, which while it has plenty of gaps, is more of a network than Baltimore's collection of somewhat connected lines ("From the files: Transit planning in Baltimore," 2012; "What to do transit-wise in Baltimore since the Red Line light rail program has been cancelled," Transformational Projects Action Plan" for a statewide passenger railroad program in Maryland," 2019; "Baltimore City Mayoral candidates views on transportation (and other matters)," 2020).

6. And merging MARC's Penn Line with VRE's Fredericksburg Line would go a long way towards strengthening the regional transit network, and Baltimore's position within it ("A new backbone for the regional transit system: merging the MARC Penn and VRE Fredericksburg Lines," 2017).

7.  Like DC, Baltimore needs to do a better job leveraging all of the higher education institutions within the city, not just Hopkins and University of Maryland. How do the engineering colleges at  JHU and Morgan State do with spillover business generation?  

Can UMBC's best practices at science education with minority students be better leveraged ("Quiet revolution in teaching science is earning UMBC extra credit," Washington Post).  Maritime, transportation and logistics related programs at University of Baltimore? (George Mason University has a transportation and logistics program at their Arlington campus.)

Creating an innovation district like Liverpool or "creative quarters" or "knowledge districts" is something to consider.

-- Creating Knowledge Locations in Cities: Innovation and Integration Challenges, Routledge (2010) [full text of the book, preprint]
-- "Developing Creative Quarters in Cities: Policy lessons from “Art and Design City Arabianranta, Helsinki," Urban Research & Practice v. 6:2 (2013)

8.  Work to improve the multiplier effect of federal agencies.  Another example of how certain types of federal agencies don't have spillover benefit for business development, Baltimore City and County are home to the Social Security Administration and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  But they haven't done much.  

As discussed previously, the Aberdeen Proving Ground hasn't done much either.  However, the National Security Agency and Fort Meade have contributed to development around BWI Airport,  Lockheed Martin continues to close area facilities ("‘A major, major loss’: Closing of Lockheed Martin plant is end of an era for eastern Baltimore County," Baltimore Sun).

Figuring out how to better leverage federal presence should be a priority.

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The East-West Divide | DC area regional economic development: anchors and where they are placed matter + airports | But military spending matters the most

The Washington Post reports ("Yet another D.C. regional group aims to overcome the east-west economic divide") on a new economic development organization in Greater Washington, focused on addressing the divide between the eastern and western parts of the region, the west--Northern Virginia--does better than the east, even Montgomery County, Maryland, which is one of the nation's richest counties (although outspanned by multiple counties in Northern Virginia including Loudoun, Arlington, and Fairfax).

And no, I haven't read the report yet, referenced in the article.

-- Regional Economic Development Strategy 1.0 Report, Connected DMV

Military versus health spending.  As I wrote in this piece last year, "Economic dynamism: Northern Virginia ascendant, while DC and Suburban Maryland lag," Northern Virginia is the Mid Atlantic's "Gunbelt" (the title of a book about the economic resurgence of the Southwest, due to military spending.)  Here are the main points from that piece:

  • Northern Virginia's military spending is "off the hook"
  • Health sciences and government regulatory functions don't have the same economic multiplier effect as military spending,* in particular information technology.
  • Process knowledge comes from building things.
  • Invention versus innovation.

Much of the difference in spillover economic activity comes down to the fact that the Department of Defense, in particular the Pentagon, is based in Northern Virginia, and even though the National Institutes of Health, FDA, and National Institute of Standards and Technology are based in Montgomery County, and various government installations in Prince George's County.

The government spends more money on military technologies and communications, and this has better seeded Northern Virginia for information technology related industries.

This has especially been the case since 9/11.

Like Amazon's choice of Arlington County (and Alexandria) for HQ2.  Amazon's profits come mostly from Amazon Web Services, and they keep aiming to win military IT contracts too.

-- "Crystal City Arlington as Amazon one-half of HQ2 | Part 1: General + Housing impact," 2018
-- "Part 2: Leveraging Amazon's entrance for complementary economic development improvements," 2018

Managing versus doing.  Agencies that produce output instead of managing activities have more spillover economic activity too.  It's not that the NIH doesn't seed new business, although not to the extent of areas like Boston, San Francisco, and San Diego when it comes to biotechnology, it's just not as much compared to the Department of Defense.  

Although yes, dealing with managing does provide a lot of opportunity for the development of government-focused contractors.  But again, it's not generating new knowledge and businesses the way that DOD does or can.  For example, how America Online or MCI became large companies, piggybacking off the DOD communications infrastructure, and the Internet more generally, which was developed through DOD research and contracts.

Most of the agencies in DC are managers of information and activity, not "doers," which is why DC proper lags in spillover economic benefit in business development, although it certainly stokes the residential market.

Airport access matters too.  Dulles and National Airports are in Northern Virginia.  Yes, BWI is in Maryland, but further away than National, and without the international connections of Dulles.

-- "DC area airport planning," 2021
-- "Privatizing Dulles and National Airports," 2018
-- "Aerotropoli and rethinking the scale of mobility networks in the context of a global economy," 2013
-- "Economic impact of National and Dulles Airports," 2014
-- "Do tax incentives pay off? : Illinois; Tennessee; Rosslyn + "The Airport Access Factor"," 2017

(National Airport offers easy access but has restrictions on flight distance, and doesn't have the ability to spark airport-related business because of land constraints.  Dulles has plenty of land available for development, but is far from the center.) 

It's easier to get to National  or Dulles Airports from Virginia than from Montgomery or Prince George's Counties.  DC is pretty easy to get to National, but it's about equidistant from Dulles and BWI.  It takes a long time to get to either.  Although merging MARC Penn and VRE Fredericksburg would help. 

-- "A brief comment on ground transportation at National Airport vis a vis VRE rail service," 2016
-- "Crystal City Arlington as Amazon one-half of HQ2 | Part 3: Leveraging Amazon's entrance for complementary transit network improvements," 2018

Montgomery County versus Fairfax.  I have written about this a fair amount, spurred in part by Montgomery County's hand wringing over its being second to Fairfax County in population and economic activity.

-- Revisiting stories: military spending, the Gunbelt, and Montgomery County vs. Fairfax County," 2019
-- "Montgomery County's real economic development problem: it's not part of the military economy," 2011
-- Montgomery County's real jobs problem is that it is an adjunct, not a full-fledged, member of the military-industrial complex," 2012

(Montgomery has military related facilities, including Lockheed Martin's hq and others, but they pale in comparison to Northern Virginia.)

And this is probably why MoCo has shifted its economic development priorities to military related business development, away from biotechnology ("Debated Montgomery County biotechnology incubator officially closes its doors Monday," "Cybersecurity tax credit part of Montgomery County’s effort to become industry hub," Washington Post, 2014).  

I think they should do both, rather than end activities in the biotechnology area, because clearly, compared to the leading centers for biotechnology, it lags.

DC.  And about Washington DC's failure to adequately leverage the multiple higher education institutions in the city and other elements of the local economy.

-- "Naturally occurring innovation districts | Technology districts and the tech sector," 2014
-- "Why Mayor Bowser is right to be leery of systematic lowering of taxes," 2015
-- "Better leveraging higher education institutions in cities and counties: Greensboro; Spokane; Mesa; Phoenix; Montgomery County, Maryland; Washington, DC," 2016

And how can DC recruit corporate headquarters?

-- "Could bringing premier regionally headquartered business enterprises to the Pennsylvania Avenue Corridor be key to its renewal and revitalization?," 2014

And should double down on regional and multi-state transit connections, and use this as a way to reposition and strengthen DC's central business district as a place for exchange beyond a focus on the federal government.

-- "DC, Transformational Projects Action Planning, and the Baltimore-Washington Maglev project," 2021

Prince George's County.  And College Park and Prince George's County's inadequate leveraging of the University of Maryland.

-- "College town follow up: alumni as residents and contributions to community capital," 2015
-- "More Prince George's County: College Park's militant refusal to become a college town makes it impossible for the city(and maybe the County) to become a great place," 2015
-- "Revisiting past blog entries: College Park as a college town and economic development | PG County and Amazon," 2018

And transit.  (From the "Purple Line" series.)

-- "Part 4 |   Making over New Carrollton as a transit-centric urban center and Prince George's County's "New Downtown"
-- "Part 6 |  Creating a transportation development authority in Montgomery and Prince George's County to effectuate placemaking, retail development, and housing programs in association with the Purple Line"
-- "Part 7 | Using the Purple Line to rebrand Montgomery and Prince George's Counties as Design Forward

Conclusion.  

(1) Montgomery County needs to work more on maximizing economic development in the biotechnology area from NIH.

(2) Montgomery County needs to figure out why NIST doesn't generate a high rate of spillover business development and address it.

(3) Prince George's County needs to better leverage the University of Maryland and consider the development of a Medical School and campus in association with the new hospital in Largo.  (WRT the latter, I hadn't thought of that til now.)

(4) Prince George's County needs to reposition development around transit.

(4) DC needs to better leverage its universities for economic development.  It should consider doing something like what Bloomberg did in NYC, creating a new IT/engineering campus with Cornell and Technion.

(5) DC should have done what I suggested and build a medical education and research initiative on the St. Elizabeth campus in association with the building of a new hospital in Ward 7.

-- "Ordinary versus Extraordinary Planning around the rebuilding of the United Medical Center in Southeast Washington DC | Part One: Rearticulating the system of health and wellness care East of the River," 2018
-- "Part Two: Creating a graduate health and biotechnology research initiative on the St. Elizabeths campus," 2018
-- "Part three: the potential for donations around an expanded program," 2018

(6) DC needs to figure out how to land some corporate headquarters businesses perhaps in conjunction with Maglev.

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* Note that military spending isn't categorically beneficial for economic development, in particular the development of spillover businesses.  It depends on if it builds knowledge and things, or destroys them, or builds knowledge and things in volume.

Baltimore County expected the expansion of the Aberdeen Proving Ground would have significant economic development effect.  But it didn't.  Because the new activities didn't require significant presence of related and spillover businesses.  Testing equipment, like they do at Aberdeen, doesn't have the same generation of economic activity as building equipment.  And firms building the equipment aren't locating in Baltimore and Harford Counties.

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Saturday, June 05, 2021

Cultural master plans and Drive in theaters?

In the past, I've argued with smart growthers in Montgomery County, Maryland who wanted to remove the parking lot from the "park and shop" in Silver Spring's Downtown, when that element is key to the historic significance of the complex.  

To me, historic integrity was more important than making the point about automobile-centricity.  Plus, a parking lot doesn't always have to be for parking...



Although, instead of allocating the space for parking, they could use the space more as an events space.  Surprisingly, parking lots are re-purposable.

The Lido Theater in Newport Beach, California remains privately owned, but keeping it open as a single screen cinema remains a struggle.

Another thought, were I to win one of those many hundred million dollar lottery tickets, would be to create a fund to buy and/or support the continuation of various historic theater buildings across the country, creating an organization to provide support, technical assistance, even the creation of a national booking circuit.

Anyway, I have a bunch of pieces about typically missing elements in culture master plans, and how such planning initiatives should be broadened significantly.  Although I don't think I have a separate piece on cinemas.


Add saving drive in theaters to county arts plans: the Redwood Drive-in in Salt Lake County.  I hadn't mentioned drive in theaters.  As metropolitan areas have urbanized drive in theaters have mostly been demolished, as their large footprints have been attractive for redevelopment.


And yes, they are definitely a car-focused use type, and typically this blog isn't focused on that, but history is history.  

Patrons watch "Avengers: Infinity War" on a Saturday night in early May, 2018 at the Redwood Drive-In Theatre in West Valley City. Photo: Josh Terry, Salt Lake Deseret News.

The Redwood Drive-In in West Valley City, Utah is now owned by a real estate developer who wants to convert the property into a housing development ("Developer pulls plans for WVC drive-in theater, swap meet site after community opposition," Fox13).  

From the standpoint of urban planning we have a conflict of interests.  In a booming housing market, adding to housing supply is a priority.  OTOH, saving one of the last examples of a significant use type, from both an arts and historic preservation standpoint, is in order too.  In this case, I vote to save the drive in.

In a cinema element in a community cultural plan, saving and operating various types of cinema facilities ought to be considered.  

Salt Lake County has the opportunity to preserve such a facility, unlike Sonoma County, California ("Drive-in movie theaters gone but not forgotten in Sonoma County," Santa Rosa Press-Democrat).
In Salt Lake County, I vote for saving the Redwood Drive In as a significant cultural asset worth preserving ("Happiness is a drive-in movie and a bag of Twizzlers," Salt Lake Deseret News).

Hull's Drive in from the air.
The Hull's Drive-in in Lexington, Virginia is a nonprofit.  It turns out that there is a nonprofit drive in in Virginia.  The original owner died, the next door property owner bought it but didn't have the money to maintain it, and the community came up with the money to buy it from him and operate it going forward, around 2000.
Salt Lake County is best practice for owning and operating arts facilities.  Salt Lake County is a national best example for financial support for the arts, as a portion of the sales tax, called ZAP, for Zoo/Arts/Parks, is used to support cultural activities and venues.

The county itself owns a number of such facilities, facilities in Salt Lake City and the just opened Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center in suburban Taylorsville ("Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center, a $45 million ‘jewel’ in Taylorsville, opens doors to arts groups big and small," Salt Lake Tribune).  From the article:
The Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center is a new concept for Salt Lake County, which has built a cultural empire with its four venues in downtown Salt Lake City: Abravanel Hall, the home of the Utah Symphony; the Capitol Theatre, where Ballet West and Utah Opera perform; the Eccles Theatre, which plays host to touring Broadway productions and major concerts; and the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, home to such groups as Plan-B Theatre, Repertory Dance Theatre and Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company.
The County also owns the Salt Palace convention center and other events centers outside of Salt Lake (including the place where I got my vaccine shots, the Mountain America Expo Center).  Some of these facilities are managed by the national firm SMG.

So having a drive in theater as one of these assets isn't a stretch.

The Salt Lake County program is complemented by other efforts.

The County Library system created an events space and amphitheater at their main branch, which supports various meetings and events also.  

Separately, the local Salt Lake Film Society runs cinemas including one in a c. 1950 building in the 9th and 9th neighborhood called the Tower Theatre, which also contains a video rental facility as another form of cultural preservation ("Why Tower Theater Video Rentals Thrive While Blockbusters Rentals Fail," Utah Stories).  

I'm not sure if city and county monies went towards buying these facilities.  Likely SLFS gets funding from ZAP and the city.

In a cultural master plan, organizations like SLFS need to be acknowledged and included, as stewards of key cultural assets.

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