Through the insightful lens of an experienced practitioner, this book describes the origin, execution, and impact of urban repopulation strategies—initiatives designed to attract residents, businesses, jobs, shoppers, and visitors to places that had undergone decades of decline and abandonment. The central question throughout the strategies explored in the book is who should benefit? Who should benefit from the allocation of scarce public capital? Who should enjoy the social benefits of urban development? And who will populate redeveloped areas? Kromer provides realistic guidance about how to move forward with strategic choices that have to be made in pursuing the best opportunities available within highly disadvantaged, resource-starved urban areas. Each of the cases presents strategies that are strongly influenced by geography, economics, politics, and individual leadership, but they address key issues that are major concerns everywhere: enlivening downtowns, stabilizing and strengthening neighborhoods, eliminating industrial-age blight, and providing quality public education options.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Financing Without Cash: The Ten-Year Tax Abatement 2. A Managed Downtown: The Center City District 3. The Transition Zone: Rebuilding Eastern North Philadelphia 4. A Citywide Revitalization Policy I: Neighborhood Transformation Initiative Organization and Planning 5. A Citywide Revitalization Policy II: NTI Real Estate Transactions and Housing Agency Reorganization 6. Broadening Public Education Options: The Penn Alexander School 7. Commercial Corridor Redefinition: The West Philadelphia Fire House 8. The Exercise of State Power: Municipal Reform and Eminent Domain in Camden 9. An Integrated Strategy: Real Estate Development and Human Capital Planning in Camden 10. Rental Housing Asset Management: A Strategy for Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Downtown-Area Neighborhoods 11. The Future of Reinvestment
John Kromer is a nationally recognized expert on urban policymaking and neighborhood reinvestment strategies. As the City of Philadelphia's Director of Housing from 1992 to 2001, he supervised the expenditure of more than a billion dollars in public investment. Currently, Kromer is a Senior Consultant at the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
"The case studies and suggested strategies in this book appear at an opportune time. As America struggles with how best to stimulate a troubled economy, rebuild old infrastructure, and improve troubled inner city neighborhoods, Kromer's illuminating case studies and advice garnered from years of experience working in some of the nation's neediest areas are a welcome addition to the literature."
—Richard LeGates, San Francisco State University
"Reinvestment in our central cities is critical to the health and prosperity of our metropolitan areas and our country. Drawing from the author’s own experience, Fixing Broken Cities provides inspiration and practical guidance to community leaders as they struggle to meet the challenges of urban redevelopment. Given the current economic crisis and the new direction in urban policy from the Obama Administration, this book is a must read."
—Parris N. Glendening, President, Smart Growth Leadership Institute and former Governor of Maryland (1995–2003)
"John Kromer shows that after decades of decline cities can come back with the right combination of reinvention and reinvestment."
—Paul S. Grogan, President & CEO, The Boston Foundation
"John Kromer’s medley of memoir, practical tips, case studies, and honest reflections will be of value to anyone striving to transform older American cities."
—Paul C. Brophy, Principal, Brophy & Reilly
"Kromer's work in cities has shaped this exciting blueprint for action in the post-industrial city. The book is a must-read for both urban policy-makers and students of the city."
—John Pelissero, Loyola University Chicago
"Kromer draws from decades of in-the-trenches experience implementing development strategies in cities in this readable book. With the storyteller’s gift of bringing out detail and developing characters, plot, and meaning, Fixing Broken Cities explores diverse perspectives on tax abatement and eminent domain, among other approaches, and shows how they have been used to transform older, declining cities. I recommend this book for experienced developers to broaden their horizons and provoke thought as well as for students and scholars who are looking for a lucid, realistic primer on the arcane tools of development."
—Beth Walter Honadle, University of Cincinnati
"[Fixing Broken Cities is] a fascinating read and a cogent insider's view of the day-to-day and policymaking activities of urban development strategies. Overall, this book is a tour de force about planning efforts and their impact in postindustrial urban downtowns and residential communities. . . . I recommend this book highly to anyone looking for a way to navigate our older, struggling cities into a brighter urban future."
—L. Nicolas Ronderos, Regional Plan Association
"Students and practitioners of urban planning and economics would find this useful. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate, research, and professional collections." - W. C. Johnson, CHOICE (March 2010)
‘Fixing Broken Cities is in some ways a nostalgic walk through urban redevelopment in the dying days of the Great Society and the rise of the Reagan Revolution. It has a certain mothball fragrance for those who worked in the field at that time. On the other hand, it is an informative overview of how these programmes interacted with politics and economics.’ - James M. McCarthy, International Planning Studies, April 2012