Cities: Organic renewal

St Joseph - Buchanan County Courthouse []St Joseph -  Downtown cnr Francis St and North 4th St [] 1St Joseph - Downtown skyline 2006 [] 1St Joseph, Missouri

### Fri, July 5, 2013
Organic Renewal: St Joe’s Story
By Roberta Brandes Gratz
In the mid- and late 1960s, while many cities and towns were still tearing their hearts out for the false promises of urban renewal, all sorts of people, young and old, saw the beauty, value and promise of gracious living in historic buildings in the places left behind by suburban development. From San Francisco to Louisville to Providence to Brooklyn to St Louis and beyond, urban pioneers stripped, cleaned and restored the irreplaceable artifacts of bygone eras of quality and taste.
Those pioneers were the vanguard of the regeneration of neighbourhoods and cities that, today, many people do not remember were considered a blighted lost cause. Washington’s Georgetown. Park Slope in Brooklyn. King William in San Antonio. The Garden District in New Orleans. The Victorian Districts of San Francisco and Savannah. Who remembers that those neighbourhoods were once considered “blighted,” over, finished?

Surely, this is the most compelling storyline of the second half of the last century. The rebirth of today’s thriving cities started with the rediscovery of yesterday’s discards. That, as they say, is history. But history has a funny way of repeating itself. Today, one finds examples of that organic renewal process re-emerging.

Many cities have lost more than what remains of the authentic architecture on which to build a new momentum. Miraculously, one that survives with an amazing rich legacy to work with is St Joseph, Mo.
Set on a bend in the Missouri River and almost equidistant from Kansas City and Omaha, St Joseph was a railroad, lumber and banking centre and, most importantly, the last full provisioning point for the Westward Expansion in the mid-nineteenth century. It’s the birthplace of the Pony Express, the site of Jesse James’ demise, home of Stetson Hat, Saltine crackers and Aunt Jemima.
St Joseph is still home to a diverse assortment of agriculture-related industry. The past and present combine to offer new opportunities, and a small but growing group of adventurous entrepreneurs appear to be present to lead the way, like the urban pioneers of 50 years ago.
Read more

● Roberta Brandes Gratz is an urban critic and author of The Battle For Gotham: New York In the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs, 2010, Nation Books.


Dunedin - South Princes St (2007), watercolour by Elizabeth Gorden-Werner

Dunedin City Council – Media Release
Grants Scheme for Central City Heritage Buildings

This item was published on 05 Jul 2013.

The DCC now has $90,000 available in grants for heritage building re-use projects in Princes Street and areas adjoining the Warehouse Precinct. Like the Warehouse Precinct scheme, this new grant scheme is focused on a specific geographic area to facilitate and expand the regeneration occurring there already. There has been good success with targeted incentive schemes in the Warehouse Precinct. Expanding into the areas around it recognises that the precinct is not an island, but is integrated with the areas around in and with the central city as a whole.

There is already some great work stirring regeneration in the area and it is important we are also poised to assist and encourage others to participate in this regeneration of the area south of the Octagon.

Applications can be made for support for a range of activities, from earthquake strengthening and facade restoration to assistance for businesses and creative industries in the area. The scheme allows building owners to build on the growing positive private sector re-use and investment in the area, such as the Chief Post Office, former BNZ and Standard Building restoration projects already or soon to be underway.

The scheme is supported by Resene Paints which is offering discounts on paint and free colour advice. Resene Otago Trade Representative Henry Van Turnhout says, “We are proud to be offering our support to another DCC area-based project, as we have for King Edward St and the Warehouse Precinct. We are also offering free assistance with colour selection as we recognise how greatly appropriate colour choice can influence the way a building – and an area – looks.”

Taking an area-based approach to regeneration and incentives encourages businesses and building owners to work together and to recognise the benefits for the entire area of re-using or improving their building.

Applications are open immediately, on a first come first served basis. Application forms will be sent to building owners, residents and businesses owners in the next week and are at

Last year’s Warehouse Precinct grants scheme supported 11 re-use projects in the area. Information about these is available at here.

Contact Glen Hazelton, DCC Policy Planner on 477 4000.

DCC Link
ODT: DCC boost for Princes St regeneration

Dunedin - Former Gresham Hotel IMG_9518 (2)Dunedin - Speight's IMG_0586 (2)Dunedin Central Fire Station, Castle St 2 []Dunedin. In future years, the council plans to use this approach in other parts of the central city and beyond.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Images: (from top) Tim Kiser – St Joseph, Missouri (2006): Buchanan County Courthouse, Downtown cnr Francis St and North 4th St, Downtown viewed from the east near cnr 10th and Charles. Dunedin: South Princes St (2007 watercolour by Elizabeth Gorden-Werner), former Gresham Hotel at Queens Gardens, Speight’s (Lion Breweries) on Rattray St; Benchill – Dunedin Central Fire Station, Castle St.


Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, DCC, Design, Economics, Heritage, Media, New Zealand, NZHPT, Project management, Property, Stadiums, Town planning, Urban design, What stadium

8 responses to “Cities: Organic renewal

  1. The good and the bad. Absolutely no idea where Rosebud’s underlings think they’re going to get money to fund these ‘incentives’ into the future. Once again, this year’s funding is a staff idea pounced on by Cull and Co for electioneering purposes. If only DCC wasn’t wearing a consolidated debt of +$600M, a sure-to-rise. Council staff keep spending, acting like a beneficent bank of CASH give-aways.

  2. Mike

    those lovely old brick buildings are just one state over from the New Madrid fault zone – supposedly overdue for a quake in the 7-8 range – the area is notoriously unprepared

    • Snap, so is most of Dunedin unprepared (obviously, some of us are making a start on enhancing building performance!) for the Akatore and the Alpine fault systems.

      Both systems have the potential to cause earthquakes severe enough to damage and disrupt infrastructure including buildings, roads and bridges as well as services such as power, communications, water and sewerage.

      Scientists believe the likelihood of a major earthquake occurring on the Alpine fault is quite high within the next 20 years.

      The city’s most active fault-line, Akatore, which runs from Taieri Mouth to Dunedin, last broke about 1000 years ago, and the chance of it happening again is less than one in 1000 – significantly better odds than winning Lotto.
      ODT Link
      Simplified hazard analysis for Dunedin (DCC)

  3. Interesting that Dunedin is not alone in facing decline. The problem is adapting to it and making the best of the situation. The constant search by successive councils for ‘economic growth’ at any cost is nothing if not tiresome. I remember the ‘Choices Towards 2021’ when it was said by the economic development chairman Malcolm Farry (yes the same one) that by 2010 they would increase FTEs (full time employees) by 6,000 to total 46,906. Anybody care to guess how many there are in 2013?

    Now we have a ‘Spatial Plan for Dunedin towards 2050’ in which it suggests that in 2010 there were 50,000 FTEs, slightly down on 2009 but significantly up on ten years earlier at 42,000 FTEs. It states that by 2061 Dunedin’s population could reach about 139,000 and swell to about 168,000 on a peak day! What? 30,000 visitors in one day!
    Mayor Dave Cull states in the ‘Foreword’: “Importantly, the Spatial Plan will provide the building blocks for our city’s future development – about where things will be located, the design of it and the overall impact so that we have a city that grows and prospers, where our families choose to stay and work, and a place where others from throughout New Zealand – and overseas – will also want to make their home.” All laudable stuff, but missing the point.

    If one was to go back in time to establish a trend, not blips and bumps, then start at the census 1936 through to 2006 (the 2013 is not yet available) and look at the population stats. We see that in that time Auckland’s population increased from 212,200 to 1,397,300 or 550%. Wellington from 160,000 to 448,956 (192%), Hamilton from 19,600 to 129,249 (560%), Invercargill from 25,800 to 50,328 (97%), Dunedin from 82,000 to 118,683 (or 125,000 during terms), an increase of 50%. Now to me that is the most definitive evidence that Dunedin is in, if not decline, then holding mode at best. So surely, it is time to put aside the ‘fantasies’ and wasteful reaching for the clearly impossible. What the emphasis should have been on was simply doing everything possible to make Dunedin a point of difference, not try to emulate others. Play up its strong points. Clearly, yellow eyed penguins and albatrosses won’t cut it. It needed to be economic. Offer the lowest overheads of any comparative centre, lowest rates, lowest travelling costs between home and work, lowest compliance costs of doing business. Incentivise development and recycling of existing stock (buildings) encourage consolidation, not sprawl. Facilitate land close in for small industrial parks for start-up operations (Forbury Park Raceway comes to mind) close in to available workforce and transport. In a word, think small! It was NZ’s eminent scientist Lord Rutherford who said to his groundbreaking research team, “we don’t have much money so we have to think”.

    Unfortunately, I suspect it may all be a bit late for thinking, for the city is so loaded with debt that there is little if anything that can now be done except hang on in and watch the slow decline continue. All thanks to the inept decision making of our city fathers/mothers and administrators over the last couple of decades.

    • Calvin, it’s actually a good thing that the city population is relatively stable numbers-wise. What’s unsustainable is the strong tilt to aging population and too few taxpayers to sustain the keep – given the gormless DCC and COC’s inability to know how to guide business diversification and added-value export (services and products).
      Right now, most if not all export primary production generated in Otago Southland benefits the Auckland community, even then we’re not doing that very well since the Government continues to borrow heavily to maintain merely ‘the starkest basics of life’ (at the most disenfranchised level, really) and, same old, does not push anywhere enough funding to scientific research and development that a polytechnic/university town (in that order of importance! – I’m not referring to the university’s professional schools or the science division) like Dunedin with wide international connections should be exploiting strongly for commercial gain.

      Again! Very few Dunedin companies have any thoughts of doing export. That’s apathy! And perchance, in the polytechnic/university town… it amounts to a lack of proper education on how ‘New Zealand bills’ get paid.

  4. Peter

    Calvin. While not dismissing the value of having forward plans for the city, you make a good point about the tendency to overstate things.

    It’s our misfortune to have let loose certain wankers who are unrealistic, and egotistical, and who lead us to believe we can punch above our weight… or height.

    Dunedin is the classic small man who has let his inner rooster take over.

    The stadium, of course, is a text book case of small man syndrome. Our point of difference – a roofed stadium – won’t last, despite Syd Brown’s recent assertion that it will be the saviour of Dunedin… in the long run.

    For myself, I prefer those real visionaries out there doing good things for Dunedin who think smaller, but with their total contribution making a greater impact, by using their own money, without spiralling us into greater public debt.

    No doubt it will happen all over again with the lure of black gold. We will be led to believe that we are the next Beverley Hillbillies with our own version of Jed, Elly-May and Jethro Clampert, plus Granny, leading the charge. (I leave you to do the casting!)

  5. Peter, I wouldn’t pretend to do the casting except to say that I believe they all could be found from within the existing councillors. Jethro would be the easiest, but he already fills two pair of shoes, at DCC and OSDHB. The inner rooster you speak of could well be October’s ‘feather duster’. Elly-May would have to be err… well there are several actually, but as she was a young flapper it’s no contest. It’s the banker that worries me.

  6. Peter

    Ah, yes the banker. What was his name? A slimeball from memory.

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