Universities are pursuing place-making beyond the campus. In the 21st century, many universities have invested in revitalization, reconceiving of urban neighborhoods as assets, rather than detriments. But what does this mean for the neighborhood?
This study uses Census data and a survey of universities, pursuing neighborhood revitalization in nineteen cities, to examine place-based outcomes. I rely on median home values and rents to evaluate market change (1990 to 2010), testing how the rate of change in target tracts compares to areas without university investments. To account for contextual variation, I employ a multi-dimensional typology to analyze changes by city markets and revitalization approach.
The findings illustrate how extending the university brand into neighborhoods, achieved through bricks-and-mortar projects, is an effective strategy for revitalization. University initiatives, regardless of their intensity or place-based focus, meaningfully impacted neighborhood housing markets. However, market appreciation was substantially greater for target areas located in strong-market cities and/or with high-intensity investment from a university.
Takeaway for Practice:
The findings contribute to an understanding of university revitalization outcomes and offer insight into the importance of context. For instance, strong market cities, on their own, are an indicator of success. University investment, in any form, appears to close gaps and boost lower-value neighborhoods back into an otherwise strong marketplace. For moderate and weak cities, the university’s approach is the defining characteristic—investment in place-based projects is critical for an improved market. Thus, the key to revitalization “success” is two-fold. Either the city is strong, enabling the university invest at any level of intensity, or the university pursues a place-based approach that increases the likelihood of growth regardless of city context. These outcomes highlight the potential for market-boosting effects, but also demonstrate the unique opportunity for planners to moderate housing market pressures alongside anchor institution investments.
- Are University Revitalization Efforts Changing Neighborhoods?: Working Paper, Sept. 2016