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Buildings and property should be owned by the people that live and work there.

đź”— The Work Of Restoration - by Addison Del Mastro:

I often wonder why it is that pretty much no town or city ever seems to just permit the old process by which the original city grew. This is so rare as to suggest that it is basically impossible. Is it?

Maybe it doesn’t really matter, but my hesitation is that these projects—especially if they remain under the purview of a single private management company—could one day turn out to be strip malls in urbanist clothing, presenting the same problems of unresponsive management, land speculation over maintenance, and physical deterioration, all at the scale of multiple urban blocks which could, in the best of times, house hundreds of people and dozens of independent enterprises.

I think the difference is that the old processes by which the original city grew, while no doubt often exploited by business owners and the wealthy, were based on the prospect of obtaining first-order benefits from the buildings and neighborhood that they produced: profits from the businesses that operated there and from the homes that were purchased and rented. If the businesses in those neighborhoods didn’t prosper or the residents who lived in those neighborhoods were unhappy and moved away, the people who owned those buildings suffered.

Modern real estate development and ownership tends to be entirely disconnected from anything that is happening in the actual properties themselves. They are abstract investment opportunities for the enormous waves of money sloshing around the world, with buildings and entire developments owned by companies owned by other companies owned by investment funds that sell shares to other funds.

Any individual home or storefront is, at most, an entry on a spreadsheets somewhere. The lived experiences of its occupants and the people who live around it are of no consequence to anyone in any of the layers upon layers of financialization that have become encrusted over the top of every aspect of our society. Storefronts can sit empty and houses and buildings can be abandoned and fall into disrepair, but as long as someone somewhere can figure out how to keep squeezing some money out of them, no one in a position to do anything about making the neighborhood better has any motivation to actually do so.

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