3.19.2018

ISO Real Places

I am, in an urban context, unashamedly pro-growth, much to the chagrin of many of my colleagues who are leery of capitalism, developers, and congestion.  I am also on the board of the region's
historic preservation advocacy non-profit, the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.  But there is less conflict than you might think from this duality. 

After all, part of what is driving growth in our modern economies is a clamoring for real places, which is to say locations that are not manufactured or set apart.  Rather, they are in real neighborhoods, with real income diversity and real mixing of uses (commercial AND retail AND residential AND recreational).  And while new, high-end office space is in high demand, so are real buildings with real histories to them. 

In other words, historic preservation doesn't have to mean thinking of growth solely in terms of bulldozing old buildings and therefore wanting to stand in front of the bulldozers.  Historic preservation can also mean an essential characteristic of real places that must be salvaged and valued in order to growth to happen.  And growth can also mean resources to take on preservation projects that may not narrowly pencil out but that contribute invaluable broader aesthetic and historic gains to an area.  At least that's how I think about the intersection.


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