Regeneration refers to in the investment of capital in the revival of old and declining urban areas either by improving what is left behind or clearing away and rebuilding. Often it may be accompanied by reimaging to change the dominant perception of an urban area. Such regeneration efforts can be seen in the town of Syracuse in New York. Between 1970s to 1990s, it started to experience urban decline. Economic decline happened as a result of deindustrialisation. As Syracuse was previously the largest manufacturer of bicycles and typewrites, technological advancement has led to deindustrialisation and massive unemployment.
6000 people were retrenched from 1964 to 1984 and 9000 from 1984 to 1989. In addition the population was declining with a 3.5% loss in the metropolitan statistical area and a 17% decline in the city’s population since 1970s.
The regeneration of Syracuse was done through image building as well as renovation and rehabilitation. In 1986, a new logo for Syracuse was designed to portray her as a vibrant, modern and a great waterfront living area compared to its past industries.
At the same time, image building and renovation took place to complement the new image Syracuse was trying to portray. Lake Onondaga, previously a heavily polluted lake, was cleaned up and was the site for the development of the Carousel Mall. Supporting industries and infrastructure were built downtown costing about $1 billion dollars. There were flagship projects to boost the attractiveness of Syracuse and they include The Galleries, Carousel Mall and Onondaga County Convention Centre. Advertisements were placed in local and national media such as “Business Week” and “Fortune” with taglines such as “take stock in Syracuse” and “Profit from our assets”. All these were done to enhance the attractiveness of economic activities in Syracuse.
By enhancing Syracuse’s attractiveness to business, many new jobs were created as business operations chose to relocate their offices to Syracuse. In a short span of 4 years, employment grew by 20,000 and a new industrial park was shortly built downtown. The population decline of Syracuse in 1990s slowed down to a 3.7% decline
Regeneration has helped to counteract the urban decline in Syracuse as through its strategies, the economy of Syracuse picked up again. However, this project largely dealt with potential investors outside the city and was done mostly by the authorities and private firms without the involvement of business owners or individuals. Thus they might not accept this project whole-heartedly and will not be participative. In addition, one of the flagship projects, The Galleries was a failure as it failed to lure retailers since there was a domineering Carousel Mall. No private firms wanted to buy leaving it in a state of decline.
Through flagship projects, a declining urban area can be successfully revived. Flagship projects are development that is extensive and substantial with regard to the cost and parties involved. Flagship projects can serve an economic and symbolic function to the area and can help to kick starts the regeneration of the area. They acts a economic magnets to attract people, spending and jobs. A successful flagship project was seen in the case of the London Docklands. The London Docklands were previously associated as an area of poverty and the use of casual labour in the docks. Men were engaged in dangerous and unpleasant work.
Following the discovery of new sea travel routes and restructuring of the UK’s economy, the docks were no longer a place of significant economic activities. In the 1980s, it had the highest male unemployment rate of 24%, which was twice of the national’s average. The city was also facing significant population lost with the boroughs losing 25% of the population. The Docklands was characterised as a place that underwent severe decline with high rates of poverty and unemployment.
Flagship projects were implemented to bring physical, social and economic renewal to the Dockland areas via property led redevelopment. The Canary Wharfs were bought over in 1995 by private investors and there were office developments to encourage investments. The timing of the flagship projects are of utmost importance as the gradual recovery in the property market and continual rising demanding for high floor building improved the interest of the London Docklands. Several notable buildings were built and today the London Docklands houses the World Headquarters of Barclays in One Churchill place and World Headquarters of HSBC in 8 Canada Square. The development of the Dockland Light Railway and Jubilee Light Railway has also improved its attractiveness to investors due to its convenience.
By enhancing the London Docklands to business and investors, it was successfully rejuvenated. More than 600 ha of derelict land were reclaimed and 90 km of new roads built. Today, the London Docklands holds significant economic activities and more than 1 billion pounds of public sector investment and 8 billion pounds of private sector investment has been generated. 41,000 jobs have been created and total employment has doubled from 27,000 in 1980 to 53,000 in 1991. New homes were created and existing homes were improved. The resident population of the London Docklands as doubled after the implementation of the flagship projects.
The implementation of the flagship projects of the Canary Wharfs in London Docklands has helped to counteract the urban decline in the area as through its strategies, the economy of London Docklands picked up again. However with the London Docklands being one of the most significant area for economic activities and its high incidence of elites, this has resulted in higher costs of houses which many locals will not be able to afford. In addition the old Dockers found it hard to be reemployed as they have the skills they were required.
However they are also strategies that tried to help to counteract the decline of the urban areas but has failed. This could be seen in the case of trying to make Hindley street as a cultural quarter area for cultural and artistic activities. Hindley street was previously thought to be a dangerous night time area dominated by strip clubs, tattoo parlours and pokies. The area received a general negative perception. Tourists and locals tried to avoid Hindley street. Hindley Street had a high crime rate during the day and at night. There were many unemployed youths roaming around the streets dealing drugs and behaving rowdily. The City Council decided to launch West End Arts Led Urban Renewal in 1999.
The programme was supported by Arts South Australia and the state government. They aimed to develop arts and creative industry projects and programmes to provide Hindley Street with a diverse identity and character to attract
tourist into the area the area. There was also relocation of several buildings such as the arts market and Adelaide Festival office. An annual West End Open House even was held to attract people and advertise Hindley Street as cultural quarters for arts activities. A 30 million dollars Centre for performing and visual arts were built so as to provide infrastructure for relevant art and cultural performances. Tattoo parlours, pokies and motorcycle shops were reduced and the streets were given upgraded to remove the negative perception of Hindley Street and give it a fresh look.
The initial outcome of this project was that Adelaide became a knowledge economy and a place of ‘Light and Style’. This was contribute due to the arts and creative activities that were located within the area. Hindley street was revitalise and the economy was picking up. However the entry of the new labour government halted the development of businesses for arts, design and media. The tenant management and selective relocate of arts companies into Hindley Street was not enough to for it to be sustained as a viable cultural quarter. Artists began to leave the area and the presence of 24 hour liquor shops has reduced Hindley street to a place for drinking. It has become desolated during the day and unmanageable on weekend nights as many people go there for drinks.
It requires such an enormous amount of resources, from policing to ambulances to volunteer groups such as the Green Team, to keep it safe as violence is common in the area. The failure of Hindley street demonstrates the need for continuous government support. The difference in government objectives has led to different varying support that was provided. In conclusion, I believe that generation and reimaging can help to counteract the decline of urban areas, however support from the government is key as seen in the case of Hindley street. The involvement of locals is important as well as they can be a great source of help and help to promote and maintain the area at not cost when funding to the project is removed. In addition, reimaging and regeneration needs to go hand in hand for to revival to be successful