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Durham and Chisinau: Urban Revitalization through Adaptive Re-Use of Industrial Structures. Urban Economics Kseniya Benderskaya. An Overview.

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durham and chisinau urban revitalization through adaptive re use of industrial structures

Durham and Chisinau:Urban Revitalization through Adaptive Re-Use of Industrial Structures

Urban Economics

Kseniya Benderskaya

an overview
An Overview
  • Durham’s recent revival of its downtown’s economic and social activity can be used as a model for other cities with similar post-industrial disinvestment.
  • Besides being relevant for analogous American cities, Durham’s redevelopment strategies are even more pertinent for post-Soviet cities that are still undergoing industrial downsizing and could learn to prevent further urban degeneration.
a durham chisinau comparison
A Durham-Chisinau Comparison?
  • Why?
  • Chisinau(Capital city of Moldova)
    • Is undergoing economic and political restructuring from centralized to market economy
    • One of USSR’s key industrial hubs
    • Soviet collapse in early 1990s-> ongoing deindustrialization = thousands of sq. ft of recently abandoned factory space in and around the city’s center

Its historic center is undergoing a wave of new commercial and residential construction- making room by demolition of architectural heritage

  • …While its idle factory/warehouse structures are wasting away on strategically valuable land.
  • These formerly industrial areas may develop into urban pockets of decay
  • Can Durham’s paradigm of facility rehabilitation become part of Chisinau’s sustainable growth strategy?
the aim of this project
The Aim of this Project
  • Identify the specific catalysts for central Durham’s rebirth
  • assess the potential for and implications of its tactics in a place like Chisinau
  • Grounding this comparative analysis in actual examples of redevelopment efforts in both cities
what s the problem
What’s the Problem?
  • The specific examples in this discussion not only account for the disparate demographics of these two cities but also provide a platform for assessing the efficiency of Durham’s approach in aiding Chisinau’s spatial wastefulness.
so how did durham do it
So, How Did Durham Do It?
  • Catalysts of Durham’ successful revitalization fall in 3 broad categories:
      • Legacy of historically grandiose but inoperative industrial edifices (tobacco warehouses, cigarette factories, and nearby mill buildings.)
      • Well-coordinated pro-business leadership of local officials, non-profit organizations, and grassroots’ representatives
      • Local, state, and federal monetary incentives to attract Big Business, young entrepreneurs, and art community to downtown
a bit on durham s industrial epoch
A Bit on Durham’s Industrial Epoch
  • Durham’s role in the national tobacco industry for much of the 20thcentury.
  • Post-industrial reorientation from cigarette manufacturing toward services and innovative entrepreneurship
  • Suburban sprawl in the 1970s
  • Demise of Durham’s tobacco giants such as the American Tobacco Company in the late 1980s and the Liggett Group a decade late
  • left the city with over 2.5 million square feet of empty factory space
  • stigma of undesirable real estate,- barrier for the city’s regeneration efforts.
adaptive re use
Adaptive Re-Use
  • Modernizing old warehouses into appealing dwellings and commercial venues
  • The shift in the public’s perception (urban ruins to commercial assets) did not happen spontaneously or overnight.
  • Use of urban “mega-projects” like American Tobacco Campus and West Villageto galvanize spatial change
    • Exemplify political initiatives, foresight, and private-public relations necessary for successful redevelopment
durham s local politics
Durham’s Local Politics
  • Urban Liberalism Dimension
  • Durham’s City Council and County Commission
    • harnessing private investment for downtown’s revitalization plans.
    • DBAP scandal (ignoring referendum) Though this deal cost several councilmen their elected positions
    • Paying $16 mil. to keep Durham Bulls
      • Would the American Tobacco Complex as we know it exist?
      • Megaprojects as “stage setters”
        • ATC; Liggett &Myers West Village (600 luxury apartments)


Liggett & Myers Redevelopment – West Village Residential and Commercial project

creation of ddi
Creation of DDI
  • Downtown Durham Inc.
    • business league consisting of city council representatives, entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizations
    • Durham’s Downtown Master Plan
      • grassroots participation in strategic planning
      • Mass surveys, charettes, interviews with stakeholders
government s monetary incentives for private developers
Government’s Monetary Incentives for Private Developers
  • tax reductions and/or partial funding for a project’s infrastructure.
  • Ex: Capitol Broadcasting Co.
    • 20% federal historic rehabilitation tax credits
    • federal new markets tax credits
    • 2 projects, Hill Warehouse and the Lucky Strike Buildingsqualified for the NC mill rehabilitation tax credit, (another 30% tax credit for development expenses).
administration s energy and leadership for piloting new projects
Administration’s Energy and Leadership for Piloting new projects
  • constantly looking for additional federal funding opportunities
  • Business Improvement District
  • Community Development Block Grants and Intermediary Relending Program
  • total public sector expenditures to reach $300 million by 2012
downtown durham luring young professionals with amenities
Downtown Durham: “Luring Young Professionals with Amenities”
  • High-tech startups; American Underground
  • Joystick Labs, Bronto Software, Inc., Intersouth Partners, Square 1 and Launchbox Digital
  • “More than ever businesses and street life in revitalized downtown offer tech executives what clean labs, glass offices and concrete can’t” (Local Tech Wire 10/29/2010)
  • Attracting the arts community
can chisinau learn from durham
Can Chisinau learn from Durham?
  • Comparing Chisinau to Durham
chisinau post 1992
Chisinau Post-1992
  • Transition from industrial to service-based economy
  • Industrial downsizing; deconcentration of industrial facilities in the center
  • 19 industrial zones that dominate 2800 hectares of land and contain over 1,500 factories of various  profiles  This seems like a huge amount, even for a Soviet city.
  • 36 factory complexes in the center
post 1992 cont
Post 1992 Cont.
  • current factory stock was constructed during the late 1950-1980s
  • Durham’s developers are capitalizing on the aesthetic/historic value of the former warehouses
  • Chisinau’s factories draw investors for more practical reasons- buildings are equipped with seismic resistant technology- expensive
context for current development ventures
Context for Current Development Ventures
  • Production volume has declined to 36% of its capacity in 1990.
  • Government owns 61.3% of once-privatized factory space (repossession for debts)
  • 40% of production facilities in CBD- inoperative
  • Government also owns 89% of land in the city
chisinau s attempts at downtown revitalization
Chisinau’s Attempts at Downtown Revitalization
  • attempted urban revitalization via2conflicting approaches
    • adaptive re-use of old structures vs. new construction and demolition.
    • The following analysis of these 2 policies shows that Durham’s adaptive re-use paradigm is most efficient for Chisinau’s growth.
comparative analysis
Comparative Analysis
  • The “Al’fa” and “Tracom” projects- privately sponsored conversions of derelict factories into mixed-use developments
  • SKYTOWER Business Center and Megapolis Mall - urban revitalization by adding new structures to the landscape.
  • Which model has been more efficient for Chisinau?
key differences between durham s and chisinau s leadership
Key Differences Between Durham’s and Chisinau’s Leadership
  • Chisinau’s support for adaptive reuse of old facilities has only been declaratory thus far
  • Chisinau’s General Plan 2025 and “UrbanProject”
  • Interview with A. Gordiv
    • no coordination or communication between city, municipal, and national government branches
chisinau s policies economic incentives
Chisinau’s Policies- Economic Incentives?
  • Chisinau has never engaged in a public-private partnership of Durham’s nature
    • No tax incentives; no partial funding for infrastructure
    • Corruption within the government actually inhibits business interests and fair competition for real estate and land
      • Interview with N. Zaporozhan
what attracted private investors to convert the old tracom and al fa factories
What Attracted Private Investors to Convert the Old “Tracom” and “Al’fa” Factories?
  • Chaotic transition policies regarding land and real estate privatization
    • Paying 1/30 of the parcels’ market values
    • Little competition in land auctions; bribes
    • Real-estate “add-ons”
need for sustainable economic development of the cbd
Need for Sustainable Economic Development of the CBD
  • Chisinau lost over 10% of its “protected” historic properties to make room for new business
  • In 2009, seventy 19th century homes in the historic district perished
  • The modernization of unused factories in Chisinau have attracted and retained small local business in formerly neglected areas
  • Tracom and Al’fa ventures are good examples
re use is better for homegrown business
Re-Use is Better for Homegrown Business
  • “Tracom”-
    • shut down production in 2004
    • the city inherited over 36 hectares of industrial space
      • with four large plants of concrete and steel
      • Located just “2 steps away” from CBD
      • attracted 4 different investors, each only needing a quarter of the space
more tracom
More “Tracom”

Source: http://wikimapia.org/#lat=47.0332796&lon=28.8228035&z=15&l=0&m=b&tag=4979

why this redeveloped space attracts local business
Why This Redeveloped Space attracts Local Business
  • Cheaper construction= cheaper rent for tenants
    • Rents are 4.5 times lower in these mixed-use complexes than in new business centers downtown
    • Operates at 90% capacity; high retention rates
    • Theses businesses specialize in construction, home improvement, and legal and real estate services- which are in high demand

Distribution of Consumption Expenditures in Kishinev- Aspects of the Standard of Living of the Population in 2009: Results of the Household Budget Survey. National Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Moldova 2009.Chisinau 2010. Pg. 53

old al fa
Old “Al’fa”
  • The 17-hectare property that has once supplied USSR with TVs and other electronics now makes room for 158 small firms
  • Affordable leases (12 Euro/sq m per month), central location
  • diverse services: from children’s school preparatory programs and clubs to administrative offices for auto-repairs and cheap retail- in sync with population’s demand.
al fa and tracom
“Al’fa” and “Tracom”
  • Reduce business’ leasing expenditures
  • Divert more traffic from center’s main streets
  • Opportunities for parking- a rarity
  • Seem to attract local businesses that are better matches for local consumer needs than the more elite downtown establishments
    • reflect of purchasing power
skytower and megapolis mall
  • SKYTOWER-Moldova’s fist “Grade A” international office complex


  • 56 euro per square meter (excluding amenities)- to cover construction costs
  • could only find tenants for 60% of its 2,000-m2 space
  • Catering to Moldova’s oligarchs and foreign officials. – very small segment of managerial positions in Chisinau
  • Lost 1/3 elite tenants during recession
  • The 700-m2 space reserved for an elite restaurant failed to attract buyers
megapolis not much better
Megapolis, Not Much Better
  • Follows Skytower’s business trajectory
  • A Chinese Investment (~80 mil)
  • Moldovan businesses could not keep up with the rents
  • Saved by a Ukrainian grocery chain
  • Boutiques outcompeted by cheap domestic clothing made in Ionel’s Textile Factory right downtown
concluding thoughts
Concluding Thoughts…
  • revitalization through renovation of vacant industrial structures is not only a “greener” approach to the center’s renaissance but one that engenders new functions for the built environment of a different age.
  • Moldova has enough construction- it does not need new buildings, just has to re-use old ones smartly.
current housing shortage and future development
Current Housing Shortage and Future Development
  • Factories Bucuria and Ionel are scheduled to move out of center next year
  • Could be used for multifamily apartments
  • Keep developers away from destroying historical structures
  • A need for strong political coordination and leadership in Chisinau
  • Sustainable growth is key