Urban Revitalization (Fall 2015)

This study group is about the roles that governments, businesses, non-profits, citizen groups and others play in urban revitalization and how the roles they play affect the character, composition and pace of redevelopment.

Our focus is on the renewal that has occurred in the Fourteenth Street corridor in Washington DC, a mile and a half strip just blocks from the White House, after laying fallow for thirty years or more as a bombed out slum and haven for drugs, prostitution and other crimes following the riots in 1968 occasioned by the assassination of Martin Luther King.

In the last ten years, the Fourteenth Street corridor has become what many would say is a glittering jewel, filled with luxury apartments, high priced restaurants, high-end retail shops and young, successful professionals and others who see it as a desirable residential and entertainment mileu. Million dollar one-bedroom apartments are now common.

How did this happen?

Who were the movers and shakers? What did they see ten years ago that others did not see for three previous decades? What role did government, community associations, existing businesses, residents and enterprises, like stage theatres, which needed low-cost facilities to survive, play in what has evolved? Who bore the costs, and who reaped the benefits? What happened to those who were forced to move out? How did policy-makers and others weigh the costs and benefits? Whose voices were heard and whose were not? Who was given a seat at the decision-making table? Who should be at the table when urban revitalization is in the offing anywhere?

What occurred in the Fourteenth Street corridor is interesting in and of itself. But what happened there may be instructive for other places, like West Baltimore and other struggling urban areas, in trying to figure out how to revitalize areas of cities that have been in long decline.

The study group will interact with government officials, land owners, developers, businesses, non-profits, citizen associations, community service organizations, city planners and those involved in dealing with urban fiscal crises over the years. It will conduct research into records that portray the Fourteenth Street corridor in its incarnation before and after the riots in 1968. A number of those involved in the Fourteenth Street corridor’s revitalization will be invited to come to Cambridge to describe the roles they played and their perspectives on the issues the study group will be exploring.


September 22, 4:00-5:30 pm, Allison Dining Room (HKS Taubman Building, 5th floor): Our first session will be dedicated to identifying the information needed to evaluate what actually happened in the Fourteenth Street corridor, who played what roles, who benefited and who bore the burdens.

November 3, 4:00-5:30 pm, Allison Dining Room (HKS Taubman Building, 5th floor): Our second session will focus on existing theories of what should occur in the planning process or otherwise to make an urban revitalization process a success, how “success” is determined and how the costs and benefits of the revitalization process are measured.

November 17, 4:00-5:30 pm, Allison Dining Room (HKS Taubman Building, 5th floor): Our third session will identify government officials and private sector players who need to be interviewed or surveyed in order to learn how they viewed the challenges, opportunities and obstacles they encountered in the revitalization of the Fourteenth Street corridor.

Subsequent study group sessions on dates to be determined will involve presentations by key players in the Fourteenth Street revitalization process and their views on the transferability of their experiences to other settings, like West Baltimore and elsewhere.

There is a vast literature on urban renewal and, as Jane Jacobs would say, the life and death of American cities. Our goal is to see how practice meets theory in today’s world.

To enroll: Advance registration is not required.

Stanley Marcuss
Stan Marcuss, a partner at Bryan Cave, is one of the country’s foremost experts in international trade. As counsel to the International Finance Subcommittee of the Senate Banking Committee in the early ‘70s, he played a central role in the development of legislation relating to export controls, antiboycott law, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Export-Import Bank. As Senior Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the late ‘70s, he headed U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty programs and administered U.S. export controls and antiboycott laws, as well as a variety of other international trade regulatory regimes. While in government, Marcuss was a member of the U.S. delegation to China that began negotiations for the first U.S.-China trade agreement and an end to the U.S. freeze on Chinese assets.  Marcuss’s law practice covers virtually all aspects of U.S. law pertaining to international trade and investment and includes such subjects as foreign bribery, international boycotts, economic sanctions, unfair trade practices, customs and U.S. import remedies. He has had experience in defending U.S. government civil and criminal investigations, appearing before U.S. appellate courts and establishing internal corporate compliance programs.  He has also published dozens of articles pertaining to subjects in his field.  Marcuss is a graduate of Trinity College in Connecticut, Cambridge University in England, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and the Harvard Law School.  He is an avid oarsman, sailor, and the head of a men’s a Capella chorus in Washington, D.C.  As a senior fellow, Marcuss will explore issues pertaining to public/private collaboration in urban revitalization, with a special focus on Washington, D.C., West Baltimore, and similarly situated environments. His faculty sponsor is John D. Donahue, Raymond Vernon Senior Lecturer in Public Policy.  Email:  stanley_marcuss@hks.harvard.edu

Stanley Marcuss headshot

M-RCBG Senior Fellow Stanley Marcuss.