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Proposing a New Model for Regional Stratification: 'The New Donut'

Aaron Renn presents a new model for conceptualizing the health of the many layers of communities that make up metropolitan regions, namely the "new donut."
September 16, 2014, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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The "old donut: "The idea being that you can’t have a smoking hole in your region where your downtown is supposed to be." Decades of reinvestment and an influx of residents to urban cores, however, have created a new model, according to Renn, in which the "old donut" has been filled in, leaving a "new donut":

In this model, the old donut is inverted. What used to be the ring of health – the outer areas of the city and the inner suburban regions – are now struggling. Whereas the downtown is in pretty good shape, and the newer suburban areas are booming.

But here's the rub: "We’ve got three decades of experience in downtown revitalization, but much less in dealing with this newer challenge zone." The challenges of reinvesting in such a "newer challenge zone" are numerous, according to Renn:

These areas have an inferior housing stock (often small post-war worker cottages or ranches), sometimes poor basic infrastructure, and are sometimes independent municipalities that, like Ferguson, MO, are often overlooked unless something really bad happens. Unlike the major downtown, they are often “out of sight, out of mind” for most regional movers and shakers.

Renn's coverage also includes more about the implications of the new model and recommends first steps in addressing the challenges created by the "new donut."

Writing for Corner Side Yard, Pete Saunders picks up on Renn's article and recommends a thought experiment for the metropolitan area of Chicago that he uses to show the unintended, and undesirable, consequences of a potential response to Renn's new model: a ban on exclusionary zoning.

Full Story:
Published on Sunday, September 14, 2014 in Urbanophile
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