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More green fields could inspire relocation to cities

Cities have received proposals for how to increase green space and improve transportation infrastructure.

Cities have received proposals for how to increase green space and improve transportation infrastructure.

Last week, representatives from five U.S. cities gathered in Washington, D.C., to discuss urban renewal plans proposed by the Georgia Tech Research Institute's Red Fields to Green Fields program.

Eleven cities participated in the program, which addressed the question of how metropolitan areas can convert "red fields" of blighted real estate into "green fields" that will spur residential and business relocation to the city. According to Georgia Tech, implementing its proposals would create a total of 20,000 acres of parkland and 300,000 new jobs in Houston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Hilton Head Island. The other six cities in the program received their proposals last year, and many have begun taking steps to implement them.

According to the reports issued last week, demolishing unused buildings will diminish an oversupply of available property and help stabilize real estate markets while increasing home values. The Phoenix, Arizona, plan calls for the removal of 33,000 acres of non-performing real estate, and estimates this transformation would create 50,000 jobs.

Large-scale projects of this sort are full of promise, but can be challenging to undertake. In making a case for its newest proposals, Georgia Tech praised how Boston's Big Dig "transformed the city." But that project was plagued by enormous budget overruns and an accident during construction that killed a motorist.