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Definition of Urban Renewal

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Urban renewal is a common phrase that’s used to refer to the process of land redevelopment. Specifically, this process takes place in areas where land is developed for urban (city) use, and usually it happens in areas that are at least moderately developed. The goal of urban renewal is to revitalize and repair an area that may have fallen into disuse, but that is not always the case. Sometimes it’s simply done because the needs of the area have changed.

Understanding Urban Renewal

Urban renewal usually consists of some form of demolition followed by some form of construction. This can be anything from buildings to roads and may involve both. In some cases, the area will be redefined, businesses will move in or out, and the city may take over certain areas in order to repurpose them as parks, housing, or other new types of structures.

The goal of the process of urban renewal is to improve the quality of life and the functioning within an area; it could be done for any number of reasons. Usually the projects that take place are funded by the city government.

Sometimes urban renewal is successful, and sometimes it is not. While the result can be a revitalized area that brings life, trade, and energy back to a city, the process can also result in failure. For example, consider the areas in cities where historical buildings have been sacrificed in favor of condos. This was done in an effort at urban renewal. Whether or not the result is better than the previous conditions is a matter of opinion, but most people consider this type of change to be a major loss.

The key to urban renewal being a successful endeavor is pre-planning and a long-term view of the future. Short-sighted decision making is what gives poor results. The city government may decide, for example, that they cannot afford to restore an old building, but they need cheap housing, so they will knock down the old building in order to put up cheap condos or apartments. However, a longer-term view would have seen the value in the old building and planned to save for its restoration, while finding another location for the housing.

As with most things, there are both positives and negatives involved in this type of action, and the key is careful planning. City governments should keep the public informed and offer votes on major decisions. The best kind of urban renewal is the kind that actually renews rather than destroys.

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