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Private sector key to urban regeneration projects


When it comes to rejuvenating decaying urban areas around the world, private sector participation is a must, according to a new report from the World Bank and the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF).

“Urban regeneration projects are rarely implemented solely by the public sector. There is a need for massive financial resources that most cities can’t meet,” said Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Senior Director for the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice. “Participation from the private sector is a critical factor in determining whether a regeneration program is successful – programs that create urban areas where citizens can live, work, and thrive.”

Regenerating Urban Land: A Practitioner’s Guide to Leveraging Private Investment looked at eight cities – Ahmedabad, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, Santiago, Singapore, Seoul, Shanghai, and Washington DC – documenting the journeys they have faced in launching and implementing a regeneration program.

While each city has its own unique issues, they share one common feature, private sector partnership was imperative in their success, according to the report.

The report identifies four phases for successful urban regeneration: scoping, planning, financing, and implementation. Each phase includes a set of mechanisms local governments can use to design a regeneration process.

However, there is still no “one size fits all” approach when looking for solutions.

“No two cities are alike, so to meet this challenge, the World Bank created an online decision tool, based on the specific issues the city faces and its current regulatory and financial environment,” said Rana Amirtahmasebi, author of the report. “Local governments can use the information curated in this report to begin to reverse the process of economic, social, and physical decay in urban areas, moving toward the sustainable, inclusive development of their cities.”

A look at how four cities implemented regeneration programs

Santiago, Chile

After losing almost 50% of its population and 33% of its household stock between 1950 and 1990, Santiago used a national housing subsidy to target re-population. Private investment reached USD $3 billion throughout the life of the project, stimulated by a USD $138 million subsidy.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

When Buenos Aires was hit with urban sprawl moving away from downtown, prime waterfront land with significant architectural and industrial heritage was left vacant and underused. The city used a self-financing regeneration program in Puerto Madero to redevelop 170-hectares of land. The total investment reached USD $1.7 billion, with USD $300 million invested by the city through the sale of land.

Seoul, Republic of Korea

With small plots, narrow roads and land prices at a premium, Seoul lost more than half of its downtown population between 1975 and 1995. To solve this, the city launched the Cheonggyecheon revitalization project to redevelop an 18-lane elevated highway into a revitalized stream with green public space totaling 16.3 hectares. This project increased real estate values and the variety of uses for the downtown areas.

Johannesburg, South Africa

Following a series of targeted regeneration initiatives property vacancy rates declined from 40% in 2003 to 17% in 2008. Since 2001, for every rand (R) 1 million (about USD $63,000) invested by the Johannesburg Development Authority, private investors have put R 18 million into the inner city, creating property assets valued at R 600 million and infrastructure assets values at R 3.1 billion.

For the full report and toolkit, please visit:

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Michael Sutherland-Shaw

Michael Sutherland-Shaw

Marketing Communications Specialist at FreeBalance
Michael works in the marketing and communications department following a career in journalism. Michael is currently learning Ruby on Rails and loves discovering new music.

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