Two Good Articles on Redevelopment

The Spring 2010 issue of the ABA publication Urban Lawyer, contains two worthwhile articles.

First, Urban Redevelopment Policy, Judicial Deference to Unaccountable Agencies, and Reality in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards Project, 42 Urb. L. 287 (Spring 2010), by Amy Lavine (of whom more presently) and Norman Oder. Mr. Oder is a journalist and the author of the comprehensive blog which he has run since 2006, and which is probably the most  accessible source of detailed information about the Atlantic Yards project and the associated litigation. A good read, that.

Second, the prolific Amy Lavine is at it again in Urban Renewal and the Story of  Berman v. Parker, 42 Urb. L. 423 (Spring 2010). Ms. Lavine is a staff attorney at the Government Law Center at Albany Law School. This article presents the reader with a detailed history of another notorious redevelopment project — the Southwest Washington, D.C., redevelopment that gave rise to the wretched Berman v. Parker case in which “Wild Bill” Douglas drove a truck through what was then left of the Public Use Clause of the Fifth Amendment. This article provided us with a touch of nostalgia because in the early 1960s, your faithful servant lived in one of those modernistic townhouses built as part of that project, that are depicted on p. 463.

We found of special interest the factual tidbit that though the Southwest redevelopment project was sold to the Supreme Court as an effort to uplift the poor slum dwellers who — so went the plan — would be provided with low-cost housing renting at $17 per month per room, in fact, after the court approved the plan and allowed the eminent domain takings to proceed, that provision of the plan was dropped. Ten years later, the Wall Street Journal reported that rents in the new, redeveloped Southwest were so high that they inspired a rent strike by affluent tenants.

We recommend both articles.