In order to define what Complete Industrial Streets are, and how they are applied, it becomes important to note that the challenges associated with older industrial clusters are largely underlying with greater complexity. The Brookings Institute in Renewing America’s economic promise through Older Industrial Cities reported that the older industrial clusters have largely been unable to compete on three levels: technology adaptiveness and response, a trend toward urbanization, and a shifting demographic transformation. Generally, as industrial clusters began to settle in suburban locations due to cheaper land costs, residences followed. However, once the economy began to shift and these locations became unfavorable, and these companies no longer found it financially viable to operate, the “suburban” residences that had followed the industrial clusters became financially stricken. The demographic composition of these residents, mainly working class persons and families, was not high income, but rather mostly low income. It is in this sense that adaptability and re-incorporation of industrial properties into the fabric of the city does not only include sustaining economic growth, but also societal, political, and racial integration where inequality and an agglomeration of disadvantaged persons exist. As such Complete Industrial Streets involves the re-incorporation of antiquated and siloed streets into the fabric of the city by allowing for multimodal accessibility.
So how can complete industrial streets solve this complexity? Complete Industrial Streets alone cannot provide for re-incorporation of vacant, abandoned, or deteriorating industrial clusters back into the city, however, it can provide a base to encourage just that. Complete streets initiatives aim to create a connected road network for all users. By removing physical barriers to entry in the public realm, Complete Streets can provide a means for economic and societal inclusion, sustaining employment to support increased economic growth, and overcoming racial disparities in educational attainment, earnings, and upward mobility, that have historically threatened the success of working class residents. The association between complete streets policies and re-incorporation of industrial uses can provide substantial benefits to historically abutting low income and working-class communities.
The National Association of City Transportation Officials, or NACTO, recommends a set of complete street accommodations for industrial streets, which can be found at the following link: https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-stormwater-guide/stormwater-streets/industrial-street/
The recommendations advocated by NACTO’s Urban Street Stormwater Guide are in part only a first step. Re-incorporation also would require the removal of physical barriers, not just within the right of way, but within private properties as well. This includes the following:
Despite outreach and precedents, there continues to be a public misconception that complete industrial streets would ultimately hinder economic progress and is economically unfeasible to provide and support industrial uses. Some economic trends have favored more localized industry clustering such as high-tech industries, that attract people for increased economic opportunities. However, the Brookings Institute noted the following reasons for increased investment in these underperforming areas:
Berube, Alan and Murray, Cecile. “Renewing America’s economic promise through older industrial cities”. B | Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings. April 2018.
Boone, Alastair. “The Fate of the Rust Belt, in 24 Cities.” CityLab, 8 May 2018, www.citylab.com/life/2017/09/the-overlooked-cities-of-the-rust-belt/538479/.
“Complete Streets.” Smart Growth America, smartgrowthamerica.org/work-with-us/workshop-types/complete-streets/.
DeBlasio, Donna M. “The Immigrant and the Trolley Park in Youngstown, Ohio, 1899-1945.” Rethinking History, vol. 5, no. 1, Mar. 2001, pp. 75–91. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/13642520010024172.
Richard, Florida. CityLab, and University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management. “Why Rust Belt Natives Are Coming Home.” CityLab, 31 Aug. 2017, www.citylab.com/life/2017/08/returning-to-the-rust-belt/538572/.
“Industrial Street.” National Association of City Transportation Officials, 5 Oct. 2017, nacto.org/publication/urban-street-stormwater-guide/stormwater-streets/industrial-street/.
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