Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Flint.


Destroy a city to save it? Kind of. Read about it HERE.

"In its 34 square miles, the city has 75 neighborhoods, once so densely packed that landlords would rent out beds for daytime and nighttime shifts. The proposal to shrink Flint would condense the population, stores and services into a few viable areas and demolish the rest."

36 comments:

alissa said...

its an interesting idea. it looks like the town has really gone downhill and its kind of sad. it seems better to have a small well-functioning community than a ghost city. at least theyre considering options - there are a lot of small towns where i grew up that have basically just shut down, they arent making an attempt to pick themselves back up.

China Grrl said...

wonder what michael moore has to say about this?

Fancy for nyc said...

where are these people going I wonder?? Anywhere but here??? It is very sad.

Anonymous said...

This is Rust Belt reality. Those ghost towns stretch West to Michigan City, Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago.

Vacant buildings attract people too poor, drug sick, and crazy to go elsewhere. BTW, nobody wants these people.

Indiana gas utility NiSource has been complaining about servicing Gary. There are fields and abandoned buildings that have gas, electric, water, and sewer services running beneath them.

Habitat For Humanity is getting involved in demolition services.

Zelda said...

Ghost Town are every where. developing new projects on it is easy and rewarding good for elections . but what to do with the ghost ?

Renate said...

At first, I thought: WTF? But having read the article, it kind of makes sense.

g. said...

A strange sign, I am sure, for residents. A sad story, either way you look at it.

Ryan said...

I think that with rising energy and transportation costs you are starting to see a contraction in terms of how much space people "need" and how willing they are to drive. These spread out cities are going to fall by the wayside as people move closer together for its benefits. What do you have remaining? Crumbling sprawl.

Granted, this might not be the case of Flint, could be more of simply a dying town, but don't be suprised as you see more of this contraction.

ArchitectDesign said...

Having lived in Nebraska for a few years when in high school, I can attest to this. Abandoned houses and towns litering the country. I just wish they had a plan to plant 100 trees in the place of every house that was torn down.

Unfiltered Meghan said...

I live in between Flint and Detroit, and both cities are facing this right now. Michigan's population has been steadily decreasing. We were one of the first to get hit really hard by the economy, and it hasn't come back yet. Many people who had no stock in Michigan (didn't own homes, etc.) simply jumped ship and went to Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, etc. This is why we have one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

My city is doing slightly better, but we still have at least four abandoned houses on my street alone. In the city of Detroit, more houses are abandoned than not. I'm inclined to think that this wouldn't be a bad idea, except for the fact that the crime isn't going to go away; it will simply follow the people into the revitalized areas. All the people living in Flint in poverty aren't suddenly going to be above the poverty line because of this - it's jobs they need.

City of Detroit, however...well, I'm starting to think they should just bulldoze it and start over. It will never be the same.

LIMOM said...

In many cases it is better to demolish the abandoned homes since too often they attract feral cats and dogs, drug users, or vandals.

I heard an interesting piece on NPR not long ago that related to this. Evidently it is well known among health officials that Detroit and its surrounding surburbs have a very low quality of diet which is directly related to a difficulty in obtaining high quality produce (who knew?). Many want to turn these empty spaces into community gardens or CSAs (community supported agriculture) in an effort to strengthen communities, improve air quality, provide access to high quality food, and improve the overall health of residents.

Sounds good to me.

Anonymous said...

The NYT Magazine did a more extensive story on Cleveland in March: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/magazine/08Foreclosure-t.html

Different approach, but some of the same issues.

All the more pathetic to see us spending billions of dollars in Iraq...

Anonymous said...

Youngstown, OH is already doing this.

Ben said...

This is the ultimate downsizing. That's not the thing that bothers me -- I am for reducing costs to a town that wastes services to abandoned areas. My concern is two fold: how are they going to "relocate" elderly who are still living in deserted neighborhoods, and how much of the demolished materials will be re-used or recycled?

If this is the best approach, it has to be carefully thought out. Quick decisions made will lead to extortion and environmental hazards.

Anonymous said...

Ironically, this is the result of poor or no city, land, tranportation and energy planning. Since the 50's, we have built homes further away from where we work and larger and larger homes - all possible due to cheap oil and ever larger cars (while family size has actually decreased). Now everything is coming down upon us - literally. What a great post for Earth Day 2009. It is time to let nature take over so that we humans can live on it in harmony - recycle, use less carbon, in efficient homes & cars. Just another sign of what is to come.

Onlinehandyman said...

What a shame! Flint now looks like Iraq. Since the resources are going there and not here I wonder how long until places like Flint begin to start looking up at Iraq???

Hanako66 said...

so very sad.

Anonymous said...

Michael Moore? Ugh. He's such a buzzkill.

mary said...

Wow!!! Definitely planting a forest would not only restore the blight, but also help the entire eco system, one step at a time. I wonder why nobody has mentioned our enormous job losses to China; are there any viable plans to recover lost jobs as opposed to simply pumping in more fake money?

RobtW said...

The Flints and the Detroits are not dying because they were poorly designed, or because their residents failed to recycle or use CFC lightbulbs, or because they are part of some larger, morally based "contraction." If "contraction" were the comeuppance of sprawl, Flint MI would be thriving and Tysons Corner VA would be the ghost town.

The people shrinking the population of the Flints and Detroits haven't disappeared; they've moved on to swell the sprawl of places like Henderson NV and Charlotte NC.

Maybe selective demolition is the answer, even if it seems like rearranging deck chairs. With a ruined economy, reputation, infrastructure, and neighborhoods, the cleverest, most aggressive schemes to reverse the tide of the shrinking tax rolls seem laughable.

Fire sale on nice Tudors, too: http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/3340-Parkside-Dr_Flint_MI_48503_1075791705

Vintage Barbie said...

I grew up just outside of Flint, and my grandparents and extended family still live there.

Considering the massive decline the last time I was home (just about a year ago,) my vote is to level it with selective demolition.

This town has been dying for the last 20 years...this is most definitely not a new thing. General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler all helped built Flint and Detroit and the decline of those companies (read: mismanagement, failure to come into the 20th century with fuel efficiency/design) have killed lower Southeast Michigan. There are still very good people that are living and working to make the area a better place...but the area is much too far gone to, in my opinion, survive.

I consider it lucky that I went South for university (right back to where my grandparents came from...) and never looked back.

Anonymous said...

GM, Ford, Chrysler, etc. mismanaged? Sort of.
The dominate narrative says just what the previous commentator said: Flint failed because GM and others didn't make fuel efficient cars.

But just as GM and others were making SUVs and trucks so were/are Toyota, Honda, etc. Its not like the domestic auto makers were the only manufactures of large cars and trucks.

I'm afraid the (ugly) truth is the foreign auto makers who set up shop in the South for cheap land, few tax requirements, low pay to employees, no unions for employees to bargain for health care and retirement, etc., much less stringent environmental regulations, etc. make it very difficult for GM to compete.

I don't think GM is a well run company by any stretch, but the explanation of their demise is not so simple.

Now in the U.S. we have this movement of capital to the South and West, not because they are better communities with better schools, (actually those are better in the North), but capital seeks the low wage employees, cheap land, lax environmental requirements, tax breaks, etc. None is this is especially good for the nation as a whole.

The logical extension, of course, as we have seen: Next stop, China and India.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:49 That is insightful.

Yes, and as for sprawl, the neighborhoods of Flint built in the 60s, 70s are actually a more human scale. They are nothing compared to the godforsaken mega-sprawl of the so-called "sunbelt." Think Texas, Arizona, Atlanta, Nevada, Florida, etc.

Developers in the South (generally) are building the strip mall, subdivision tract housing nightmare of America that promotes living in one's car, traffic congestion, lack of uniqueness of place, unwalkable areas, few and inadequate natural areas, etc.

When will they learn?

Anonymous said...

Good jesus. Hope this doesn't sound arrogant, but I generally avoid reading the text on design/fashion blogs, let alone the comments, because they lean toward bubble-headed. Meanwhile, this thread is like the water cooler conversation at an urban planning think-tank. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

Good jesus. Hope this doesn't...Why do all our oaths now have to include "Jesus"? "Sweet Jesus," "Good Jesus," "Sweet Baby Jesus," etc.?

a•sku said...

i sort of agree with this in a way. but i half-heartedly say that knowing what could potentially replace it.

Anonymous said...

At least they are addressing the problem. The prime example for not taking action is Detroit. It's a city that never recovered from race riots in the late sixties and that stands today as a former shell of itself. Prime example is when they "dressed" the city for the 2006 Super Bowl, covering burned out and abandoned buildings with large murals and creating fake window displays so that visitors wouldn't see the true condition of the city. It's a shame that it has been allowed to happen - so at least Flint is being proactive...

Anonymous said...

where the f*ck are you? we're dyin' here.

Anonymous said...

hellooooo? D, where are you?

Anonymous said...

Decorno - please come back and post. Share some pretty pictures of gorgeous homes or at least make smart ass remarks about bad decorating. Decornoholics are going into withdrawal.

Anonymous said...

come out
come out
where ever you are!

Anonymous said...

Seriously. At least put up a different picture. Everytime I check back, I feel like shooting myself.

Anonymous said...

I feel like I'm in Flint with this dying blog!

Anonymous said...

(In a frenzy of grief over the loss of their leader, the Anons start tearing at one another's flesh and howling piteously...)

Decorno said...

Decorno needs a break. Unless you guys want to start paying me to blog...

rerun said...

oh honey. i was about to say, where ARE you? i kept checking the site and that forlorn pic was gettin me down. rest your weary head and come back refreshed.