This Spring 2015 semester I’m taking a class in Introduction to Urban Planning, and we just finished one of the modules of UrbanPlan. UrbanPlan is a real-world urban planning simulation that gives high school and college students a chance to learn about policies and economics and how it affects communities. We’re given the context of a fictional community, Elmwood, in the city of fictional Yorktown, as a basis for students working in teams, as developers, to come up with a vision for redevelopment.
There are 5-6 members on a team, with the roles being: Site Planner, Financial Analyst, Marketing Director, City Liaison and Neighborhood Liaison. As a team, we made decisions about planning issues such as: should we preserve the historic districts? Should we keep the homeless shelter? Should we make affordable housing projects? How many retail businesses and office spaces do we envision? How can we strategically place the buildings, physically, to attract residents?
One thing I learned about this project, and about the real world is that, unfortunately as much as we disregard it, money is king.
Money for the developers and investors.
Money for the city.
And a lot of times there are these grandiose ideas about how to change the status quo but the status quo is very cost efficient.
Change requires money. A lot of it.