Op-Ed: Don't Ditch Those Industrial Land Uses

An op-ed describes the choice by many cities to prioritize residential projects in old industrial spaces as short-sighted and potentially unjust.

2 minute read

June 6, 2016, 2:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Brewery

Producing Exalted IPA at Mancave Brewing in Eugene, Oregon. | Joshua Rainey Photography / Shutterstock

Andy Cook writes an op-ed for Next City that makes an impassioned plea in support of the industrial land uses that are giving way to luxury residential developments in cities like Baltimore and many others around the United States. "If Baltimore and cities like it want to build a future that offers opportunities for everyone," writes Cook, "we need to hold the line on light industrial zoning, and think hard about ways we can rebuild our base of working class jobs, and ultimately, the pathways they offer back into the middle class."

Cook offers the example of Union Craft Brewing—a home-grown Baltimore success story looking for a new location for expansion. The problem: the city of Baltimore has been prioritizing residential housing over industrial space during the current urban boom. Cook provides context:

Between 2005 and 2015, Baltimore down-zoned over 400 acres of industrial land to residential or commercial categories. During that same time, it added only 67 acres of new industrial zoning, all at the former site of the Hollander Ridge public housing project, demolished in 2000. 

Noting that "once a city gives up an industrial area, it never comes back," Cook builds the case that Baltimore's focus on residential adaptive reuse projects only benefits an "upwardly mobile generation of suburbanites seeking a more urban lifestyle." Meanwhile much of Baltimore's population is mired in unemployment and underemployment.

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