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Urban Development Revisited: The Role of Neighborhood Needs and Local Participation in Urban Revitalization

Sabine U. O'Hara
Review of Social Economy
Vol. 59, No. 1 (MARCH 2001), pp. 23-43
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/29770093
Page Count: 21
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Urban Development Revisited: The Role of Neighborhood Needs and Local Participation in Urban Revitalization
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Abstract

Traditional models of economic development such as economic base and urban revitalization models have been found wanting. Both models rely on expert-based assessments of local development needs. More recent approaches call for a stronger focus on local development needs and resident skills as the basis for designing development strategies. One such neighborhood-based approach to development is presented in this paper. Its initial step was a survey of 444 house-holds representing 1398 residents conducted in the Hamilton Hill and Vale neighborhoods of Schenectady, New York a 'downsized' community of about 65,000 residents in the Capital District of New York State. Survey results show a strong need for recreation, childcare, a grocery store, care for the elderly and home repairs. Residents' self-assessed job skills and interests appear to be well suited to meet these needs. Yet despite these promising results, barriers to neighborhood-based development persist. These barriers reiterate the long history of isolation prevalent in US inner city neighborhoods. Two issues are particularly characteristic of the barriers that continue to keep urban neighborhoods isolated from their larger context. They are: (1) a lack of effective communication between local residents and decision makers; and (2) a lack of valuation systems that properly assess the value of social and environmental context and their contributions to local development.

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