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Roberta Brandes Gratz

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New York City Promises Affordability Through Rezoning But Delivers Gentrification

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Dozens of neighborhoods in New York City have been upzoned based on contrived, and even false claims made by the city, which promised more diversity, affordable housing, minimum displacement, and other worthy goals. None of those projections materialized, but this is never acknowledged. Worse, the upzoning created the opposite conditions: less diversity, fewer affordable units, and whiter, wealthier neighborhoods. This, too, is never acknowledged. But the damage is done—and developers are having their way—following the new zoning. Then it’s onto the next neighborhood, with the same approach. Roberta Brandes Gratz explores in her article city planning and city promises in New Tork City, disclosing zoning regulations that lead to the opposite of what they preach.

Amazon's False Flag Urban Mission: What the HQ2 Debacle is Really About

This article was originally published on CommonEdge as "An Amazon Correction: The City Won – and the Company isn't Going Anywhere."

The Amazon brouhaha needs clarification: the company is not “pulling out of New York.” It’s simply canceling the construction of a physical campus in Long Island City, the fastest growing neighborhood in the city for almost a decade. The fate of that neighborhood reflects the outsize development trend of the larger city and the erroneous assumption that construction means growth. But let’s leave the bigger picture aside for the moment.

Urbanism that Forgot the Urban: John Portman's Legacy in Detroit

This article was originally published on Common Edge as "Will Detroit ever Fully Recover from John Portman's Renaissance Center?"

Last week I wrote about the anti-urban legacy of architect and developer John Portman. I think it’s worth going into a bit more detail about these projects, since we seem to have learned so little from their failures.

Let’s start with Detroit. The Renaissance Center was one of his largest and most celebrated projects. But this sprawling complex of seven-interconnected skyscrapers poses some difficult questions for urban planners today: can downtown Detroit ever fully recover from this mammoth and ill considered development? And, more importantly, why haven’t other cities learned from its clear and stark lessons?