Recycling the City
This collection of essays examines underutilized, abandoned, and vacant urban land within political, economic, institutional, and policy contexts. In the volume’s three sections, the authors consider the issues at the national, regional, local, and site levels; examine redevelopment processes and policies; and describe some potential uses of vacant and abandoned land, including urban agriculture, green development, and the preservation of an industrial landscape for cultural uses.
Following an introduction by coeditors Rosalind Greenstein and Yesim Sungu-Eryilmaz, the 11 chapters raise the essential questions: Is vacant land an opportunity or an obstacle? Are brownfields a legacy of prior industrial wealth, or of illegal and dangerous contamination? Is a land inventory vital to community needs for future growth, or the symbol of political shortsightedness or worse? Is the reclamation of this land the first step in an urban turnaround, or one more giveaway of local assets to investors with weak ties to the community?
To transform urban vacant lots requires focusing redevelopment efforts beyond the vacancy to the neighborhood and district context, accepting transitional uses as intermediate states, and a commitment to making thousands of small steps. The authors put redevelopment of urban land within the context of land economics and make policy recommendations that concentrate on local action, including by nongovernmental organizations. Recycling the City gathers cross-disciplinary research and analysis on the topic of underutilized, abandoned, and vacant urban land, and will be of interest to anyone concerned with the future of our cities.