Urban Renewal For Whom?

Urban renewal projects intended to help the poor in struggling neighborhoods really do the opposite, writes Timothy B. Lee.

"Entrepreneurs purchase property in a marginal neighborhood and struggle to build a viable business, only to have the city take their property and give it to a wealthier business with better political connections. Every time that happens, it sends a powerful message to future entrepreneurs that they should think twice before setting up shop in low-income communities."

"That's just one of the ways in which urban renewal policies designed to help the poor do just the opposite. Many urban planners argue that the power of eminent domain is needed to combat 'blight' in urban areas. But closer examination shows that eminent domain only shifts the problems of poverty to another neighborhood, while destroying the social fabric that is essential for a genuine revitalization of poor neighborhoods. States that truly care about the welfare of their urban poor should prohibit the use of eminent domain for private urban redevelopment projects."

Full Story: Bulldozing the American Dream



Distinguishing Where Eminent Domain Helps and Hurts

The writer talks about a dental practice as the victim of eminent domain policy. Would he consider using as an example something far less constructive to a neighborhood than a dentist's office?

How about a decades-old, privately-owned parking lot on the site of several long-since-demolished abandoned buildings in a downtown? Could that also be treated as a poster child for the wrongs of eminent domain? Probably not, since it's not nearly as constructive and positive as a private business that operates in a building and provides services directly benefitting people.

Nevertheless, the usual argument against eminent domain rarely distinguishes the land uses that are moving the community forward and those that are holding it back.

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