Neighborhoods & Communities

Community building and place making are essentially about creating the environment to satisfy human desires for homes, jobs, recreation, social interaction and access to the natural world. Healthy and prosperous neighborhoods and communities nurture a public spiritedness that can sustain a place across generations. Resources here feature specific local snapshots that highlight efforts to strengthen and improve communities.

Growing Baltimore, Neighborhood by Neighborhood
Baltimore city leaders have set a goal to attract 10,000 new families by 2021.  In addition to place-based strategies targeting downtown and neighborhoods, the city has made extensive investments in education and new school construction designed to lure families with children.  This case study explores a diverse set of partnerships that lie at the heart of efforts in the City of Baltimore to revitalize neighborhoods, grow population, and support community prosperity.

Home Matters™ Links Community Voices
A coalition of community development partners have joined with the National NeighborWorks Association and banking industry leaders Citi and Wells Fargo, both NLC Capstone Corporate Partners,  to create the Home Matters™ program. The partners in the Home Matters coalition seek to cut through the policy statistics and focus instead on the street-level stories that define the fabric of a place.

Transit-Oriented, Mixed-Use Rental Housing in St. Paul, Minnesota - The Penfield Project
Downtown St. Paul's Penfield project, a $62 million mixed-use redevelopment effort, includes rental apartments and a full service grocery store with easy access to public transit. The financing arrangements and the "best value" contracting provisions demonstrate the creative and innovative approach undertaken by the city.

Can't Leave Now (June 25, 2012)
For the makers of the film DETROPIA, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, the first priority is to contextualize a set of problems and move an audience toward understanding. Furthermore, their hope is to make the complex challenges of globalization, race relations, urban decay and the disconnections between citizens and government more approachable.

Leveraging Funds Through Community Development Block Grants (2011)
Flexibility and community support have enabled the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to provide real help for low-income residents since its inception in 1974. The creative and innovative use of CDBG dollars has transformed local ideas and designs into practical solutions that strengthen communities and the bonds between local actors. This guide exhibits five city projects that are exemplary in their use of CDBG funds.

Go Tell the Spartans (September 14, 2011)
The Spartans of old were the lightly armed, highly determined warriors that defended the pass at Thermopylae in 480 B.C. against a vastly superior force of Persians, bent on the complete destruction of Greece. The modern Spartans are the lightly armed and highly determined municipal officials who battle to prevent Michigan from being overrun by economic collapse, commercial oblivion and social chaos...

La Rambla de Barcelona (June 15, 2011)
The first thing a visitor to Barcelona may notice is the time shift. At 7:30 in the morning, even the Starbucks is not open. In fact, the only people on the streets of the Gothic Quarter are the tourists streaming from their small hotels past the closed shops with the doors covered in graffiti... 

Places and People are Keys to Thriving Cities (May 19, 2011)
Efforts at "place making" have seldom been so visible in both federal policy and local initiative. But author Edward Glaeser in his popular work Triumph of the City, suggests that a focus on place is truly, well, misplaced... 

U Street and Neighborhood Change: A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever (May 9, 2011)
Here's a value that often eludes urban policy thinkers: adding beauty to the world. Blair Ruble, in contrast, thinks "there is no higher mission for an urban community to fulfill." He's not so much talking about the aesthetics of physical surroundings; he's moved by the beauty of what people do and create in the places they make. Ruble asserts this view in his terrific "biography" of "Washington's U Street."

Morgantown and WV University Neighborhood Collaboration (April 11, 2011)
In a remarkable partnership, the City of Morgantown, W.Va. and West Virginia University (WVU) have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2004 to stabilize and rejuvenate the Sunnyside neighborhood adjacent to the school's downtown campus.  The Sunnyside Up Campus Neighborhoods Revitalization Corporation is the vehicle providing the residents of Sunnyside with a voice in decisions affecting their neighborhood.

Which Comes First: The Neighbors or the Neighborhood? (April 11, 2011)
The stretch of land has all the attributes to warm the cockles of a city planner's heart. Bordering the west side is a major sports venue and the nescient development that often accompanies such a facility...

City of Camden Standing Up and Moving Forward (March 14, 2011)
Community leaders in Camden, N.J. are focused with laser precision on the tangible steps being implemented to achieve progress and improvement in the areas of revenue, poverty, crime, and unemployment.  At the heart of the community building efforts are the Greater Camden Partnership and Cooper's Ferry Development Association. 

Placemaking Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
The Windy City's placemaking initiative facilitates community oriented development and management of public spaces promoting community interaction.

Gordon Square Arts District, Cleveland, Ohio
Gordon Square Arts DistrictJoy Roller, Executive Director of the Gordon Square Arts District, discusses a collaboration between the City of Cleveland and three non-profit organizations, Cleveland Public Theatre, Near West Theatre, and Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. At the center of this partnership is a high priority role for the arts as a catalyst for economic development and job creation through preservation and renovation of historical buildings and complimentary new construction in the Gordon Square Arts District. The district's five major construction projects, targeted for completion by 2013, have generated hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in new tax revenue to the city, county and state.

Gallery Night Trolley, Coral Gables, Florida
Coral Gables is home to the region's original Gallery Night, which was started more than 20 years ago and showcases various works from European and Latin American art masters to outstanding contemporary artists. The Gallery Night Trolley is free and allows visitors an easy way to discover what's happening in the world of art in the city by taking them directly to the galleries' front doors.

Dubuque Historic Millwork District, Dubuque, Iowa
Located between the Port of Dubuque and Dubuque's downtown, the Historic Millwork District is a warehousing district being renewed as a urban mixed use development while preserving environmental sustainability.

The CityDeck, Green Bay, Wisconsin
The CityDeck was developed on a four-block length along the banks of the Fox River in downtown Green Bay. The development has reacquainted the community, including nearly 10,000 downtown workers, with the river and the opportunities for revitalization that it provides. The promenade, which stretches for a quarter of a mile along the river, hosts a variety of year-round cultural and recreational events, including outdoor dining, live performances, fitness runs and boating and fishing.  Already, the development has boosted the local economy and encouraged new downtown investment.

The High Line Park, New York, New York
Located in Manhattan's West Side, the High Line is a 1.5 mile urban park built upon a former aerial railroad track.

Civic Space Park, Phoenix, Arizona
Civic Space Park offers residents, workers, ASU students and downtown visitors a park with unique urban design, sustainable construction and operational features and a landmark public sculpture.  The park, which opened in April, 2009, utilizes sustainable design techniques to generate power, keep the area cool and capture rain water.

City Garden Park, St. Louis, Missouri
Described as an oasis within St. Louis, City Garden is a 2.9 acre urban park boasting 24/7 access and art and sculpture pieces envious of art museums.