An interesting read on Schenectady’s turnaround with a few highlights (from
Lessons in Downtown Redevelopment Success: The Story of Schenectady’s Comeback
Ray listed the five stages of development as they worked in his city, in rough chronological order:Stage 1: Coffee, Clubs, and RestaurantsStage 2: Arts and EntertainmentStage 3: Technology/OfficeStage 4: HousingStage 5: Retail
Flippin here: Then we have the vital piece, which I’ve advocated before, a public-private entity that is funded and tasked with a mission to bring about economic development:
In his remarks, Ray also allowed that “money matters” and that is also where Schenectady stands out as a model.
Indeed, Schenectady Metroplex was formed under New York State statute that also allowed it to impose a special “half-cent” sales tax (i.e. an additional 0.5% tax within the Metroplex region) whose proceeds would be used exclusively for economic development. That has created a robust and reliable revenue stream that Metroplex has been able to leverage continuously throughout its efforts.
Flippin here: Priorities and tactics matter:
Besides the stages listed above, Ray’s second major lesson was to “build from strength”. It seems logical, of course, but required tough choices for the city. Many redevelopment groups focus their attention on the worst performing neighborhoods and try to fix those “problem” areas.
Flippin here: It’s interesting to note two things from the above:
1) Retail is dead last. In our fair city, we still have proponents of the Retail First strategy. Even with the now vacant Chalmers lot, we have folks who think retail is the top priority
2) Speaking of Chalmers, folks may point to housing as #4 instead of #1 per Kaufman’s proposal. A fair point but that is why I titled my post with the word “models” — there are multiple models that may work in the city but in my view, we are clutching discredited models (retail first) and now working with no model at all.
The questions and issues I highlighted in my post Big remain the same. A working model would help us get closer to understanding and answering them.