From Blight to Bright: Urban Renewal Projects That Inspire

Posted by Jason Wyrwicz on Jul 12th 2016

We've all seen or heard of problems plaguing large cities, whether it's blighted areas of the cities not adding value to the community or a particular issue that hasn't been resolved successfully. With the re-urbanization of cities around the world as more people choose to live and work in major urban centers rather then suburban communities, it's important for these cities to involve to attract young professionals, families, and companies to them.

Much like you would add planter boxes, flowers and trees to brighten up your front yard or patio, a number of cities have decided to turn to green space and lush foilage to improve their appeal and to help them solve the issues they face.

infographic of urban renewal projects

In Atlanta, the goal is to end racial segregation by neighborhoods through the Atlanta Beltline project. The city's 45 neighborhoods will be linked through the transit system, which will include 22 miles of rail. A network of green space, walking trails flanked by beautiful trees and outdoor planters, and 1,300 acres of parkland will give people an opportunity to come together. The project will also provide 5,600 affordable housing units.

China's Guangzhou Bus Rapid Transit Network is being designed with practicality in mind. Population growth in the Guangzhou area has meant traffic congestion and air quality problems, so they've focused on improving public transportation. Using a low-carbon, direct service model with no interchanges or terminals, the area's bus network is already handling 850,000 people a day, connecting them to commercial centers and significantly reducing traffic congestion.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles is launching a major effort to correct a past mistake. Faced with flooding problems, the city decided in the 1930s to cover the Los Angeles River with concrete. Today, Los Angeles plans to remove that concrete and turn the river and its banks into an inviting area that includes 51 miles of bike paths. Additionally, 240 related revitalization projects along the river will generate an estimated 18,000 jobs.

Chances are you haven't heard of Curitiba, Brazil, but this city has quietly become what many consider to be the most sustainable, eco-friendly city in the world. Due to a population surge in the 1970s, the city decided to look for ways to support the growth responsibly. Seventy percent of its trash is recycled and residents have planted 1.5 million trees along Curitiba's streets. This city has committed one-fifth of its land to protected green land and boasts 52 acres of green space per capita.

Environmental projects are also a priority in Las Vegas. After convention guests started protesting poor energy practices in the city, casino owners took note and started meeting with city officials and renewable energy providers to come up with a plan. Now, Las Vegas, previously known for its hefty energy usage, plans to run on 100 percent renewable energy by 2017, spending $6 billion on related projects. These efforts have already made Nevada the top state in the nation for use of solar and geothermal energy.

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