GCDN CONVERSATIONS SERIES 5 – Session #1
REHABILITATION, PRESERVATION AND INNOVATION – THE COMPLEX BALANCING ACT OF URBAN REGENERATION PROJECTS
Tuesday, 17 November 2020
- Asima Jansveld, Vice President, High Line Network – New York City, USA
- Brian Green, Developer, Victoria Yards – Johannesburg, South Africa
- Fabrice Berthereaux, Directeur Général Adjoint, SAMOA/Île de Nantes – Nantes, France
- Lucie Renou, Chargée de Mission Développement International, SAMOA/Quartier de la Création – Nantes, France
- Sherry Dobbin, Chair, Urban Art Forum (ULI-UAF) – London, UK
- Kiley Arroyo, Executive Director, Cultural Strategies Council – moderator
Summary of Key Points:
Facilitated by Kiley Arroyo, this session explored the challenges and complexities in advancing equitable urban development and promoting broad-based community building and development.
This session was inspired by the GCDN 2020 research report by Arroyo: “Capturing Value and Preserving Identity” and the panel consisted of leaders involved in urban regeneration projects worldwide.
Value Capture Tools are Useful in Disrupting the Trend of Urban Displacement and Protecting the Local Character and Distinctive Identity of Places
Arroyo kickstarted the session by contextualizing the importance of value capture as a relevant strategy to advance equitable urban development today. As she explained, a common issue faced in urban (re)development – whether culture-led or not – is that success often results in increases in land value, which tends to displace the communities and activities that contributed to the original characters and identities of the places.
Value capture is proposed as a relevant preemptive strategy to prevent this urban displacement. Broadly, value capture is an umbrella term based on the concept that public actions should generate public benefits. As an emerging field of public finance, value capture includes a set of direct and indirect tools that recover and reinvest uplifts in real estate value that are produced by public sector investments.
Direct value capture tools generate revenue from the use of an infrastructural asset. Examples include the development of Business Improvement Districts and the use of tax credits to recirculate the flow of capital to low-income communities. Meanwhile, indirect tools reclaim some of the additional value created by public infrastructure. Examples include inclusionary zoning and transferring development rights to channel development towards designated growth areas.
The Significance of Including Value Capture as a Preemptive and Purposive Strategy in Urban (Re)Development Projects
However, value capture strategies tend to be typically considered late in the planning process, if at all. Drawing from her experience in the High Line project, Asima Jansveld shared that although the High Line was initially a community-led project that has generated tremendous economic value for the west side of Manhattan in New York City, all the value generated ended up in the hands of private developers and none has gone towards the operations and maintenance of the High Line. Unfortunately, the High Line has also become an area that serves mostly tourists and the extremely wealthy. This case study highlights the importance of considering value capture early in any urban planning process.
Sherry Dobbin argued for the importance of creating and capturing different forms of value from cultural infrastructure, which includes economic, health, wellness as well as climate-related impacts. This value creation and capture should be preemptive and not reactive. To enable this, she stated the need to be prospective and project success, and not just measure retrospectively. She shared her current experiences in attempting to project the positive impact of an urban development, which will be based on a series of datasets, benchmarks and assessing existing cultural assets, resources and policies. While she noted the lack of guaranteeing accurate predictions of returns, Dobbin reasoned for the urgency to take the risk to do so and set aspirational goals for value capture from the start. Additionally, she pointed out the importance of developing the right business, governance and collaborative models that will provide a conducive structure and environment to enable this value creation and capture.
The Importance of Ensuring an Enabling Environment for Community-Centric Urban Planning and Development
As equity is an important goal of value capture, all contributors emphasized the importance of centering the communities in the neighborhood for equitable urban development. Drawing on their experiences with urban regeneration projects, they shared valuable advice on how to ensure an enabling environment for community-centered urban planning and development:
- Fabrice Berthereaux shared how the urban redevelopment of l’Île de Nantes is based on a long-term vision and policy, which has usefully enabled long-term support as well as longer duration to develop, refine and achieve goals. Lucie Renou elaborated on how this long-term vision has also enabled an open and evolving masterplan that has been shaped through active citizen consultations and community engagement. She also shared that the community has influence in shaping the urban planning team leading and implementing the masterplan.
- Renou also affirmed the importance of developing different tools to engage and empower different stakeholders and communities. This has enabled SAMOA Nantes to develop creative enterprise zones for a diversity of stakeholders and players including bio-technology, science and the creative industries.
- Drawing from his experience with Victoria Yards, Brian Green shared on the importance of a ground-up approach and the need to listen to the communities on the ground when developing the initial blueprint of any urban redevelopment project. He also underscored the need to understand the location and surrounding neighborhood of the project, as it will shape its subsequent use and relevance, particularly how it will be able to respond to the needs and shared values of the communities.
- Jansveld conveyed the significance of genuine community engagement, where leaders need to avoid simply using community as a tool to get approvals. Instead, communities should be engaged as part of an ongoing conversation. She highlighted the 11th street Bridge Park project in Washington, D.C. as a community-centric project that invested 3-4 years and over USD$50 million to engage and empower communities as part of the development and planning process, as well as the creation of a land trust to promote affordable housing in the area.
- Dobbin argued for the importance of patience and the need to recognise community as plural and ever-evolving. One must be able to adapt the tools for community engagement and be responsive to how communities shift and change over time. In particular, Covid-19 has demonstrated the usefulness of digital tools in broadening access and including other voices into the process and conversation.
- Additionally, Dobbin also discussed the need to care for the communities you invite in, and to find meaningful and genuine ways for the communities to engage.
Finally, this session also highlighted Covid-19 as an opportune moment to reassert the value of culture, especially in relation to health and wellness. It is also timely to reset and include more equity-centric and collaborative practices. In particular, Dobbin noted the need for a nimble approach to rethinking cultural districts as collaborative and cooperative spaces.
Find out more in the latest GCDN report: “Capturing Value and Preserving Identity.”
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have found the report useful and/or have any other ideas on the topic of value capture.
Notes taken by Dr Hoe Su Fern, Assistant Professor and Arts and Culture Management Programme Coordinator, Singapore Management University