Rightsizing Cities Initiative
As some historic cities and towns are prospering, others are dealing with significant numbers of vacant and abandoned properties—the effects of decades-long economic and population shifts. These shifts affect historic residential neighborhoods, central business districts, and neighborhood commercial corridors, leaving older properties empty and historic landscapes pocked with vacant land and buildings.
PlaceEconomics believes that older places contain the necessary ingredients for revitalization as strong, vibrant places to live, work, and do business. Downtowns and commercial corridors offer economical spaces for start-ups and established businesses, a convenient transportation network, and a customer base within walking distance. Historic neighborhoods are filled with beautiful, well-built houses that are close to shopping, schools, and transit. Perhaps most importantly, older cities and neighborhoods have a unique sense of place that is in high demand by young professionals, empty-nesters, and people who want to live where things happened in the past and are happening now: places with a strong sense of history and opportunity.
The Rightsizing Cities Initiative focuses on planning decisions and regenerative opportunities that are deeply rooted in local landscapes and character. It ties together local assets and a pragmatic planning ethos to produce clear, workable, community-based plans and strategies for strengthening neighborhoods in rightsizing efforts.
As cities and towns look to shape smaller, brighter futures, PlaceEconomics offers a number of services to assist in the process. These services can be tailored to public and nonprofit clients.
- The ReLocal tool that assists planners, land bank officials, preservation advocates, and others in making strategic decisions around reinvestment, rehabilitation, and demolition of vacant and abandoned properties
- Workshops and training to help identify historic preservation’s role in rightsizing
- Reports on best practices in rightsizing
- ReLocal pilot project in Muncie, Indiana (2013)
- Historic Preservation and Rightsizing: Current Practices and Resources Survey, completed for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (2012)
- Population Change in Historic Neighborhoods, completed for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (2012)
- Right Size, Right Place: A New Role for Preservation (presentation for GRAY AREA Preservation Provocateur series, Philadelphia, February 2014)
- Rightsizing Right (in Forum Journal, Summer 2013)
- Between a Rock and a Historic Place: Preservation in Postindustrial Urban Planning [Abstract and Intro]
- Preservationists’ Guide to Rightsizing (forthcoming)
Who We Are
For the last 25 years, PlaceEconomics has been helping clients understand and capitalize on the economics of historic places. The Rightsizing Cities Initiative expands this work to the planning sphere, helping municipal governments and nonprofits in legacy cities take advantage of heritage assets as they plan for the future. RCI Director Cara Bertron specializes in innovatively integrating preservation into large-scale planning projects. She wrote her Master’s thesis on how preservation is being incorporated in older industrial cities’ rightsizing strategies and recently developed character studies, a new model for citywide historic resource survey work, as a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. Cara also authored the Charleston Preservation Plan (with Page & Turnbull), which received a National Trust Honor Award in 2009.
Please write RCI@placeeconomics.com for more information about the Rightsizing Cities Initiative and our services.