Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Bridgeport Looks to Urban Land Institute for Revival

Bridgeport, Connecticut, an old port city that fell on hard times ages ago and has yet to get up, is looking to the Urban Land Institute for help.

According to the Connecticut Post, William Hudnut, chairman of the ULI advisory panel that is working with the city, "offered a hint at some of what the panel may recommend when he rattled off four major projects he said are worth pursuing.

Those projects include:

l build a new train station and bus terminal.

l develop Remington Woods into an office park.

l provide more housing downtown.

l redevelop Steel Point into a mix of housing, retail and offices buildings.

Hudnut acknowledged the city faces major challenges: high taxes, an unresponsive bureaucracy, a largely unskilled workforce and an image of being crime-ridden and corrupt."

Those are not exactly characteristics that connote optimism.

Bridgeport is an old factory town -- Remington Arms was based there -- and P.T. Barnum was its mayor. Its nickname, Park City, gives a hint that its past was greener and more optimistic than its present. I have no idea if the Urban Land Institute can do the job -- I have the feeling that it doesn't have the greatest reputation among New Urbanists -- but let's hope that it succeeds.

If nothing else, give Bridgeport credit for candor on its website: "By the 1930s the community had almost 500 manufacturing firms. In the late 20th century Bridgeport remained a manufacturing center, producing electrical and transportation equipment, plastics, and machine tools however the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs left many unemployed. Bridgeport also had problems with unemployment, pollution, drugs, and crime in its inner-city neighborhoods. "


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