Repackaged “urban renewal”: Issues of spatial equity and environmental justice in new construction, suburban neighborhoods, and urban islands of infill

Melissa Anne Currie*, Janni Sørensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study examines environmental justice issues; the tie between infill, sprawl, and inequity; and race and class discrimination as a hindrance to urban sustainability in newly constructed “starter home” neighborhoods in Charlotte, North Carolina, commonly called “cookie-cutter” development. Major findings include a discriminatory practice of locating neighborhoods meant for lower-income and workforce families adjacent to preexisting locally unwanted land uses (LULUs), including environmental hazards and other negative elements in the built environment such as industrial uses or heavy manufacturing, thus placing the most vulnerable populations at greater risk. We find that new construction surrounding the Interstate 485 loop spurred economic development in exurban areas but syphoned it from older inner-ring areas and that the worst location for new starter home neighborhoods is within predominantly low-income urban neighborhoods already challenged on a number of fronts. Rather than acting as a catalyst for positive change, the opposite occurred, and the surrounding problems, instability, and disinvestment spread into the new areas. In such situations, starter homes embody repackaged urban renewal as a new model: islands of suburban-style infill surrounded by decline.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Urban Affairs
Volume41
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)464-485
Number of pages22
ISSN0735-2166
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

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