Flint sparks change

Flint, Michigan. Infamous in Michael Moore's doc on dying factory jobs.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

Flint, Michigan. Infamous in Michael Moore's doc on dying factory jobs. Infamous as hometown of largest bankrupt corporation in America, General Motors. It's hereby downgraded to Sergeant Motors. That Flint is changing urban planning in America. Data indicates it has the furthest to go to "redcovery." But what if quality down-sizing is the real goal? Now Flint's the main city in Genesee County, Michigan where the Land Bank is taking over foreclosed, sub-standard homes. And the homes are being bull-dozed. Gardens, parks and other projects are replacing them. Historic abandoned buildings are being converted to contemporary use. One hotel had been vacant for nearly forty years. "Compact" is the new urban planning word of the day, not "growth." Flint was once touted to become a quarter-million people large. It never got there and is now well below 100-thousand residents inside the city limits. Over 400 old homes in the county deemed not worth fixing, and certainly not needed by a shrunken population base, have been demolished. It was estimated earlier this year that one-third of all homes in Flint were vacant of legal human residents. But the Land Bank remains controversial. Shrinking industrial cities are not unique to Michigan, or even the U.S. From Pittsburgh and Providence to Glasgow and East Germany, older factory-fattened cities are on a new diet. Better perhaps, but not bigger. Such an international trend could not exist without an interest group. That would be SCiRN, Shrinking Cities International Research Network. With the reunification of Germany there was an influx of Germans into the western sector. Seems not everyone wanted to stay in those old Soviet-style cities. An official of SCiRN says over 350-thousand housing units in the eastern sector of Germany have already been removed. Less crowding, more parks and gardens. Nature replacing asphalt. Here's a list of the ten fastest shrinking metro areas in the U.S. Flint only manages to be second fastest. Here's an interesting look at shrinking cities turning to environmental reform, greener living, to insure a future. This research paper contains a chart of cities losing population, from Riga to Rome, San Francisco to Seoul. For the ten fastest shrinking cities in Europe, click here. Maribor and Frankfurt are one and two. Romania has four of the ten fastest shrinking cities. Real estate there would be cheap.

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