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If it Can Happen in Flint…

Don’t look now but the poster child for urban disinvestment and the decline of manufacturing has at least one small bright spot.

As the New York Times pointed out last month, the Flint, Mich. neighborhood of Carriage Town is experiencing increased investment with new and existing homeowners revamping the area’s historic Victorian houses. The old architecture and the neighborhood’s location adjacent to downtown provide the lure.

Just like the houses themselves, the neighborhood has the “bones” for rebirth—the existing infrastructure, location, and urban amenities. As cities like Flint (think Youngstown, Ohio or on a larger scale Cleveland and Pittsburgh) work to develop land use and development strategies to accommodate their (permanently) reduced population, remembering where the assets are will be key to successful implementation. Better a thoughtful and methodical discussion of what to do in shrinking cities than braying about, irresponsibly usually, bulldozing them.