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 well-built houses that are close to shopping, schools, and transit. Perhaps most importantly, older 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 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.
The Relocal tool offers planners, land bank officials, preservation advocates, and others a framework for building stronger neighborhoods, using vacant and abandoned properties as key parts of long-range plans. Relocal uses diverse, comprehensive data to evaluate neighborhood health and vitality and propose stable, sustainable uses for neighborhoods at the tipping point. It then provides an array of strategic options for each vacant property—an array that allows local choices, responds to a range of funding types, and facilitates the coordination of multiple public and private entities. Read more about the tool here.
We also offer workshops and training to help identify historic preservation’s role in rightsizing and research 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]
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. She is the co-founder and Convener of the Preservation Rightsizing Network.
Please write RCI@placeeconomics.com for more information about the Rightsizing Cities Initiative and our services.