The real estate development plan has created mixed feelings among community members both because of the development proposal itself and the way in which the plan came to light in the community. Importantly, Brickville residents’ opinions about the real estate development plan are heavily influenced by their own stakes in the community, as well as the identities they hold and their historical positioning within the community.
Real Estate Developer
Three months ago, the trickle of gentrifying redevelopment intensified when a major for-profit real estate developer announced plans for a large-scale development of the Brickville area.
While the developer's parents grew up in the area and were working-class members of the Brickville community, the developer is now wealthy and lives in an affluent suburb far from his parents' former neighborhood.
The developer, who is white, has few remaining contacts with current Brickville residents; however, his vision for high-end residential and commercial development to create spaces for the ‘creative class’ has been greeted enthusiastically by some newcomers to Brickville—and with concern by others.
Developer's Plan and Process
Using various companies he owns, the developer has been quietly purchasing available property inexpensively over the past five years. He now owns most of the property needed to execute his redevelopment plans and is confident that city officials will work with him to secure title to the remaining plots—some of which are vacant.
At first, there was some confusion in the community about the entity behind the property purchases. Some residents had offers of sale from neighborhood residents who later admitted to working for the developer. After local housing advocates exposed the company behind the transactions through local media, the developer finally publicly presented to the neighborhood residents and the city a complete redevelopment plan.
The goal of the real estate developer’s plan, as articulated, is to focus on development of a particular Brickville neighborhood. He promises positive outcomes in several key sectors:
The plan calls for the addition of four million square feet of new office buildings and stores; 12,000 new mixed-income homes; bicycle and walking paths; new parks, streets, and sewers; a new power grid (i.e., system by which electrical power is distributed in an area) with wind turbines; and environmentally-friendly features such as rain gardens. Notably, the plan outlines some elements, such as rehabilitation of public schools, that would require public investment; however, the developer does not suggest how he would secure the public financing for these changes, which would likely require new taxation.
To be successful, this plan will require significant amounts of public funds to be invested in multiple ways, including tax increment financing (TIF) and tax credits. Local officials must support the plan to obtain the needed approvals for the redevelopment and financing. However, at least initially, the developer only has the support of some members of the city council and county commission.
To bolster his case, the developer secured an economic impact analysis that suggests that the job creation benefit from the projects could be as high as 12,000 jobs, including both those in temporary construction and long-term employment in the new commercial enterprises.
The plan calls for razing the brick factory, remediating the site for contaminants, and building new homes on the site, as well as converting existing residential land into new housing and business developments.
The proposed concept is to surround several large employers with shops, homes, and other amenities of a "livable" and walkable neighborhood.
The dense, walkable community will enable older adult residents to live independently for a longer period than typical suburban communities, while seeking to maintain the cohesion that has long characterized Brickville. Among the proposal’s strongest supporters are public health experts and social service providers, who see elements in the plan that would address many of the social determinants of health disparities that plague Brickville today.
The real estate developer promises—in his promotional materials and in public statements—that redevelopment of the community will lead to "restored hope, increased employment of the residents, and stabilization of the area." Additionally, his public comments included some promises that raised alarms among residents of color, whom, in statements about “restoring order” and “reducing crime,” heard a thinly veiled allusion to racist stereotypes about majority Black communities. Also, missing from the plans is any proposed reparation for the harms done by redlined development in Brickville’s history, the legacy of which can still be seen in differences in property values between homes owned by Black and white residents.
The Developer's Plan
The goal of the plan is to improve the neighborhood in seven sectors:
education and energy
maintain the heritage
The plan calls for a complete overhaul of the physical structure in the community including the addition of four million square feet of new office buildings and stores, 25,000 new permanent jobs, 12,000 new homes for all income levels, bicycle and walking paths, new parks, new streets and sewers, rehabilitation of several public schools in the area, a new power grid (i.e., system by which electrical power is distributed in an area) with wind turbines, and rain gardens.
The plan calls for razing the brick factory, remediating the site for contaminants, and building new homes on the site.
The proposed concept is to surround several large employers with shops, homes, and other amenities of a well-functioning, "livable," and walkable neighborhood.
Redevelopment of the community will lead to restored order and hope, increased employment of the residents, and stabilization of the area.
The dense, walkable community will enable older adult residents to live independently for a longer period of time than typical suburban communities.
Process goal: Think through and list the problems one might anticipate with increased need for client services and shelter.To be successful, this plan will require significant amounts of public funds to be invested in multiple ways, including tax increment financing (TIF) and tax credits.
Local officials must support the plan to obtain the needed approvals for the redevelopment and the financing.
Critical Thinking Questions
These core questions, specific to each client, will help you better understand and assess your client. Refer back to your answers throughout your assessment.