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Cascade: No. 60, Winter 2005

Message from the Community Affairs Officer

Several years ago, the Philadelphia Fed hosted its first conference on reinventing older cities and towns across the country. We were delighted by the number of folks who shared our interest. More than 400 people joined us from 26 states to discuss a wide range of issues that are important to making cities vibrant again.

We realized when we hosted the 2004 conference that we had tapped an important vein – many people and professions are interested in the subject, the number of issues and obstacles are extensive, and the number of solutions is growing. So the Philadelphia Fed will host a biennial conference on this subject to keep the dialogue going. Reinventing Older Communities: People, Places, Markets will be held April 5–7, 2006, in Philadelphia.

To complement the conference agenda, this issue of Cascade is devoted to articles about reinventing older communities. For example, Chris Leinberger, an experienced land-use strategist and developer, outlines the real estate and financing issues that make it difficult to develop in urban areas. He also gives compelling reasons why revitalizing cities and older towns makes more and more sense in our society.

Another interesting perspective is found in Marty Smith’s column, in which researchers question whether the urban “success stories” are based on perception or reality. You’ll also learn about: a Berks County, PA, community foundation’s joint effort with business leaders to develop an economic development plan; how older cities are modernizing zoning and land-use tools to encourage new development; the experience of three Bucks County, PA, townships that took the farsighted step of working together through cooperative land-use planning and zoning; Smart Growth America’s recent work to help communities deal with vacant properties; and a new focus of Fannie Mae’s American Communities Fund.®

The April 2006 conference will feature leaders who will present different strategies for reinventing communities and turning around downtowns, and related subjects, such as waterfront development, community organizing, eminent domain, health in low-income communities, greening strategies, challenges in rural communities, reclaiming vacant property and brownfields, and lessons for older communities from the planned rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

You’ll hear from leading philanthropists, mayors, and governors. The latest information on the conference is on our website. Or you may contact Jeri Cohen at jeri.cohen@phil.frb.org.

We invite you to join us.