Demolition as Stimulus
Tear it down? Picture by Jeramey Jannene of Urban Milwaukee
Via Calculated Risk comes the idea of utilizing stimulus funds to demolish abandoned buildings and other structures that would cost more for local governments to tear down later.
As the Obama team has noted, properly chosen infrastructure projects provide the best bang for the buck. These projects provide jobs today, and they are an investment in the future. We need more projects …
And since Obama asked for suggestions … How about a demolition program?
First, if any state and local governments have old idle buildings waiting for future plans, why not demolish them today? This would provide jobs for local workers, and prepare the land for future development and remove an eyesore. The Federal Government could pay for this demolition.
Second, how about a tax credit for demolishing residential housing units? In many areas there are old, vacant housing units. These are a public nuisance, but the owners have no motivation to demolish the property. Why not provide a tax credit if the properties are demolished in 2009? This could eliminate housing units from the housing stock, provide local jobs, and possibly remove a public nuisance.
A demolition plan would probably only add a few billion to the stimulus package, but it would be well targeted providing jobs in many communities and prepare the land for renewed growth in the future.
This sounds like a really great idea. Why not extend it to underused roads and bridges? The Hoan Bridge and 794 interchange in the Third Ward take up an incredible amount of space in an area that is ripe for revitalization (or, at least, it was before the economic downturn). Downtown activity drops off dramatically when you cross south under the highway, where the only thing that’s in business are cheap parking spots for workers commuting from places that would be better served by enhanced transit service.