Giving Compass' Take:

The discusses the transformation of the city of Tuscon that is part of a wider movement that the National Trust for Historic Preservation defines as “reurbanism."

How can donors support reurbanism as a movement to strengthen community development?

Read about the trends to watch in community and economic development.

Jonathan Mabry has lived in Tucson, Arizona, for the last 35 years. The Southwestern city of about 526,000 people has sunny weather for two-thirds of the year and gives residents a sweeping view of the mountains, he said. But for many years, that came at a cost.

Mabry, the city’s historic preservation officer from 2007 to 2017, saw urban sprawl take over the city in the first 20 years he lived in Tucson. In the last 10 years, however, that trend has slowed down, and the focus has shifted to the revitalization of the city’s downtown rather than the expansion of its suburban areas.

The real transformation of downtown Tucson began with the development of a modern streetcar, the Sun Link, in 2014.  The Sun Link sparked a movement to redevelop downtown buildings and helped bridge the physical divide created by Interstate 10 in the 1960s, which split the city in half.

What used to be a ghost town come the end of the workday has now turned into a bustling entertainment hub for Tucson residents. Restored historic theaters bookend Congress Street, and the downtown has become an epicenter for Tucson’s food scene. Mabry said there are more than 60 restaurants downtown, two-thirds of which are locally owned. In 2015 it was designated as the first U.S. “Creative City of Gastronomy” by UNESCO.

Downtown Tucson’s revitalization is part of a larger movement the National Trust for Historic Preservation defines as “reurbanism.” Proponents of reurbanism advocate for the redevelopment of old buildings not only to create a more economically and environmentally sustainable city, but to establish a strong sense of community for its residents.

Cities like Los Angeles and Phoenix have embraced reurbanism in the form of adaptive reuse programs, initiatives that make it easier for the developers or business owners to repurpose old spaces.

Read the full article about reurbanization by Sydney Worth at YES! Magazine