The words are intended to convey converting run-down, unpleasant cities into vibrant, nice places to live and work. Since this didn't always work when attempted, and sometimes made things worse for the mostly poor people it was supposed to benefit, the term is sometimes used sarcastically. There's a fine line between urban renewal and gentrification...or perhaps no line at all.

Urban Renewal is a dynamic and often mis-understood process. There have been many poorly planned and executed Urban Renewal areas throughout the US in the past, but the current paradigm of urban planning has tended to learn from these mistakes. Historically, Urban Renewal areas were ghettos or slums which were bulldozed to make room for towering multi-family complexes. Now, the focus is on infill and rehabilitation. The current method of creating URAs has become an extended process of obtaining feedback from residents and business owners in the community to determine how they would like changes to be made to their neighborhood. Once an URA is approved by city council a city agency will then create Tax Increment Financing bonds to fund capital projects that will increase the value of the land and improvements. This money goes to fund projects such as infrastructure, new affordable housing, parks and small business development among other things.

There is a danger of gentrification, but it is neither the goal nor the inevitable.

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