Gateway Cities Field Study

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Spring 2013 Course
Meets: M 5:00pm - 7:00pm in WCC Room 3007
1 classroom credit

Note: This course will consist of one classroom credit and one writing credit.

This field study course is conducted jointly by Professor Nicolas Retsinas (HBS), Professor David Barron, Harvard Law School (HLS) and Professor Ann Forsyth, Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD).

HBS, HLS, and GSD students will team up working on interdisciplinary projects relating to the redevelopment of Gateway Cities. Gateway cities are critical sites of redevelopment in Massachusetts, but can also be found throughout the Northeast and the Midwest. They are former industrial cities that experienced hard economic times in the wake of economic shifts but are receiving renewed attention from policymakers to see how they can be redeveloped to make them important, successful places for the 21st Century. A key feature of these cities is that they are home to new waves of immigration, a dimension that makes them especially important to the broader economic strategy for Massachusetts and other states that are home to gateway cities.

In this field study, the interdisciplinary teams will work on site specific projects by partnering with state, local and community representatives on ongoing redevelopment projects and policies.

Each team will be assigned to a project for the semester and work collaboratively to provide project reports to the point people in the city, state or community working on those projects. In addition to the field work and final project reports, students will meet with the course faculty for six sessions throughout the semester to receive an introduction to the relevant concepts relating to urban redevelopment in these gateway cities, as well as an introduction to the three major disciplines that are relevant -- planning and design, law, and business.

Potential project sites include:

  • Fitchburg, MA: The Fitchburg City Hall has just been labeled "endangered" after years of deferred maintenance. In looking at the potential renovation of City Hall (a historic property), the Mayor would like to consider its role as part of broader economic development strategy to redevelop the central business district, including an abandoned theater across the street. The Mayor is especially interested in the potential for public-private partnerships.
  • Worcester, MA: the City of Worcester is completing a master plan for a 35-acre area aimed at allowing academic expansion for their nine or so colleges as well as a future revitalization plan in the area. Student teams will partner with the Worcester Business Development Corporation to target a specific project area within the revitalization plan.
  • Salem, MA: The City of Salem has a large project underway in its Point neighborhood. The Point is a distressed neighborhood that is in the process of trying to formulate a comprehensive redevelopment plan. This project could include partnering with the City on a housing inventory and needs analysis.
  • Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD): In a partnership with the DHCD, the project team will study the potential use of Social Impact Bonds to finance the redevelopment of elderly public housing complexes.
  • HBS student’s role in the project team will likely be to provide deliverables such as market research, financial analysis, development budgets, and pro formas that will help formulate and shape the execution and implementation of the project plans. HLS students will assist with the legal-policy, as well as strategy and analytical issues raised by the projects. GSD students will undertake planning activities such as feasibility studies, physical planning and economic development strategies.

    Admission is with the permission of the instructor. HBS students please submit 1-2 paragraph statement indicating your interest in the independent project or a specific project site from above. Please submit statements by January 7th to Lisa Strope, HBS Research Associate, at: lstrope@hbs.edu. HLS students submit an email explaining your interest in the course by email to Professor Barron by that same date. GSD students submit to Erica George, egeorge@gsd.harvard.edu.

    All sessions will be held on Mondays from 5:00 to 7:00pm beginning January 28, 2013.

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