Wednesday, February 27, 2013

THE MYTH OF CONVENTION, MEGA EVENT AND SPORT CENTERS AS URBAN DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES

1.1 Introduction
So far in the series on urban poverty and local economic development papers that I have discussed, the fundamental problems and substantive issues such as displacements, inner city development, and justice, among others have been articulated. Together, these papers have also suggested new approaches and perspectives to understanding and thinking about urban challenges. This paper bears such eminence.

The fact that challenges in sustaining the growth of cities continue to persist despite immense investments and adoptions of varied strategies to induce redevelopment is no news. Indeed, it is such observation that makes it even more critical as innovative strategies are imminent. Cities continue to decline and with it are associated issues of economic prosperity decisions, increase in crimes rates, and decline in local government financial capacities.

Approaches to managing this phenomenon have been conventional and mundane in the form of construction of mega structures to host mega events with the aim that this will rejuvenate the local economy back on track to economic prosperity. Is this the right approach? There exist a dilemma in viewing these strategies as they, evidently, have huge political support and have physical outputs; an elusive attraction if not looked at critically. 

In this paper, these types of strategies are examined. This is to reaffirm the obvious findings of several studies and to make aware the fundamental obligation of the urban planner and policy analyst to be creative and innovative. The contention is that “not all that glitters is gold” and grandiosity does not mean effectiveness and efficiency or prosperity.  This paper reviews three main strategies that have informed such redevelopments; namely convention centers, mega-events and sports related investments that have been initiated to induce economic development and enhance the welfare of cities. The thrust is to draw awareness on whether these approaches have achieved these aims; what factors were in play; what were the roles played by local government or city authorities; what are the lessons thereof; are there still relevant in the current urban environment; what are the challenges that exist; and what implications and recommendations can be made in relation to emerging findings. This is thus the thrust of this paper.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

CASE STUDIES OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT PRACTICES IN DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: A JUSTICE CRITIQUE


1.1 Introduction
Urban development interventions still remain contentious in development discussions mainly because of their consequences. The debate as to whether these interventions are beneficial continues to resurface in development literature as well as programs related to the modernization of the city and the encouragement of economic development. It is evident that “new housing and related infrastructure investments in cities can act as key engines for economic regeneration to restore the wealth of households and generate new demand” (UN-Habitat 2009). Yet the process to achieving this and the aftermath of such actions has raised issues of “justice” (Fainstein 2010). Fundamental theoretical dilemma arises; can there ever be a situation where “capital and community” development are mutually reinforcing? (Stoecker, 1997).  In this paper, which is part of the Urban Planning and Local Economic Development series, perspectives are drawn from urban development in New York, Chicago, London, and Brazil to aid understanding of how these two concepts can be harmonized within the context of justice. Some emerging strategies to facilitating this have been appreciated and implications for knowledge building and policy have been drawn on the findings from these discussions.