Date: 3/31/2005 8:46:45 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)
NB - What is not mentioned in this piece is that Alex Garvin (a member of the
NYC City Planning Commission) is also the chief planner for NYC2012 and is
a chief proponent of the WS stadium. The first time I met Doctoroff, he was
accompanied by Alex Garvin, a professor at Yale School of Architecture ...
and represents about everything obnoxious you could think about a
snot-nosed arrogant ivy-leaguer (I can say that as a former Eli). The
myopic kids who started this magazine are former Garvin students, many of
whom hold him up as a God (Garvin is not God, while Eric Clapton and ajen
Jacobs might be).
Like many right-wing think tanks, this is a new effort to inject right-wing
views into the media. If you parse the article you will see ambiguous and
unsupported statements being used as code words ... "depressed" or
"obsolete" to describe existing conditions. The use of phrases "revitalize"
and "mixed use" invariably means city planners and developers coming in
with visions of taking people's homes or businesses.
Their argument to follow a "middle ground" seeks a ruling with holes
arguably larger than what exists now. Just watching the process of the MTA
sale of the rail yards shows how government can say something is necessary
for "real" public value and politicians and the press will just accept it
The article suggests using "clawbacks," where developers would be held
accountable for their promises. Anyone who has dealt with DOB, DHCR or
other agencies know that in New York, no one would ever be held
accountable. Even if that were to happen, how does that replace a home or
neighborhood? It reminds me of the plans for Community Benefits Agreements
in Brooklyn. Clawbacks would be hijacked by corrupt Democratic elected
officials (yes, that's a double oxymoron) and groups like BUILD or ACORN.
Subject: TNAC Launches Op-Ed Team
From: "Next American City"
Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2005 22:15:26 -0600
Dear TNAC Subscribers and Fans,
The Next American City has launched a new Editorial Team to address
immediate issues facing cities such as pressing legal cases, federal
policy debates, and local decisions on development to a broader audience
through op-eds in newspapers throughout the country.
This team will be chaired by our new Editorials Editor, Jim Schroder, a
New York-based planning consultant who works with TNAC Advisory Board
member Alex Garvin. You may remember Jim from his recent TNAC article in
issue #7 on how his hometown of Cincinnatti is reacting to the Creative
Last Sunday, the Hartford Courant published the first piece from our team,
"Adding Accountability to Eminent Domain," by TNAC author Annie Lux.
urban renewal, Kelo v. City of New London. It argues that the Court should
not foreclose eminent domain as a tool for urban economic development, but
should lay out more stringent guidelines to ensure that eminent domain
projects actually meet public purposes. I have included the piece below.
If you have any comments on the piece or questions about the Editorial
Team, please e-mail Jim Schroder at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can look forward to issue #8, with feature stories on The Urban/Rural
Edge and a special section with excerpts from Joel Kotkin's new book on
the history of cities over the past 5,000 years, in subscriber mailboxes
and on newsstands in April.
Thanks very much for your interest in TNAC, and as always let me know if
you have any ideas about the magazine.
The Next American City
Adding Accountability To Eminent Domain
The Hartford Courant, March 20, 2005
In the 1960s, New London believed it could bring business back into the
center city by using the power of eminent domain to replace historic
neighborhoods with highways. The city's strategy backfired. Today, New
London remains a depressed city, replete with vacant lots and a riverfront
lined with obsolete industry.
In a new plan designed to increase the city's tax base and reverse decades
of decline, New London seeks to use eminent domain to condemn middle-class
homes in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood to make room for new mixed-use
development. Several homeowners have refused to sell their properties and
have taken their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The question recently argued before the court is whether privately built
"economic development" projects qualify as a "public use." Although the
Constitution clearly allows government to condemn land for public uses -
such as roads, schools or publicly constructed urban renewal projects -
private development for the purpose of increasing a city's tax base
occupies a grey area. Instead of strictly ruling for either side, the
court has the opportunity to take a middle ground by requiring safeguards
to ensure that "economic development" projects really do give cities
New London undertook an exhaustive planning process and decided that it
needed new development, coupled with a downtown river walk and improved
infrastructure, to lure citizens to a revitalized waterfront. City
officials argue that the proposed retail, housing and office project will
help revitalize the city through increasing its tax base, thus increasing
Several residents of the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, on the other hand,
see the project as remarkably similar to 1960s urban renewal - a big
government scheme that takes land from individual homeowners, with no
guarantees that the project will provide the benefits that supposedly
justify taking land. Even worse, land is being taken from one private
owner and given to another private owner, not the state.
The Supreme Court faces a tough decision: If it rules in favor of the New
London homeowners, it severely constrains the ability of depressed cities
to improve the economic opportunities available to their residents. If it
rules in favor of New London, it sets a precarious precedent for
condemning any property that can be more efficiently run by another owner
- or, even worse, condemning properties simply because politically
powerful companies with friends in city hall desire them.
The court should find a middle ground by encouraging cities and companies
involved in economic development plans to put their money where their
mouth is through "clawbacks." Clawbacks hold developers financially
accountable for doing what they say they are going to do to promote
economic development. Down the Connecticut coast, New Haven uses
clawbacks. So should New London.
Eminent domain is a powerful tool - one that effectively destroyed many
cities in the 1960s. Yet, this same tool, if cautiously applied, can help
revive these cities. Economic development should qualify as a form of
eminent domain, but only if the law includes further restrictions such as
clawbacks to increase its image and to minimize its abuse.
Annie Lux is an editor of The Next American City, a quarterly magazine
about the ongoing transformation of America's cities and suburbs,
available online at www.americancity.org.
Copyright 2005, Hartford Courant
To unsubscribe from this list visit
To update your preferences visit