Shrinking Cities


Cities do not need to grow big to grow wealthy, and growing big will not necessarily lead to wealth.

-Research findings of Weissbourd and Berry (2004). The Changing Dynamics of Urban America


Existing policies and planning models fail to provide communities and their leaders with sufficient guidance in how to transform mounting inventories of vacant properties and surplus infrastructure into new livable neighborhoods.  Our operating premise is that a new set of sustainability strategies can serve as the catalyst for the regeneration of shrinking cities. We launched the shrinking city studio so that students and communities can together explore first‐hand the dimensions of smart decline and translate their experiences into action.

We created the shrinking City Studio website as a virtual clearinghouse of the latest developments and model practices for practitioners, policymakers, and researchers. We also have a blog that provides a neutral forum for having difficult conversations and testing new ideas. Finally, we dedicate this website to those residents, community leaders, and organizations striving to rebuild their homes and neighborhoods. As the photo below illustrates, we are inspired by the energy, dedication, and can‐do spirit of these places!

Joseph M. Schilling
Associate Director of Metropolitan Institute


      Photo by JSchilling



Other Blogs:

  1. Right-sizing Shrinking Cities Requires Patience and Prudence

Events, news, books, videos, and featured city

A sad farewell to one of our own--Josh Bennett, who lost his battle with colon cancer

Upcoming events:

  1. Reclaiming Vacant Properties: the Intersection of Sustainability, Revitalization, and Policy Reform. October 13-15, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio


  1. Cleveland, OH: Judge May Hold Investors Responsible for Blight
    (Aug. 2010)
  2. Urban Renewal Revisited?  Roberta Gratz questions the validity of shrinking the built footprint (19 Apr.  2010)
  3. Drastic steps to try to control Detroit's recurring nightmare--abandoned homes (30 Mar. 2010)
  4. Tracking the CRSI--the bill now has 47 Co-Sponsors in the House
  5. Fels Senior Consultant John Kromer interviews (15 Mar. 2010) Paul Grogan about his bookComeback Cities:  A Blueprint for Urban Revival

Journals / books:

  1. Alan Mallach (May 2010).  Facing the Urban Challenge:  Reimagining Land Use in America's Distressed Older Cities:  The Federal Policy Role
  2. Alan Mallach, Lavea Brachman (May 2010).  Ohio's Cities at a Turning Point: Finding the Way Forward
  3. Karina Pallagst et al (Eds.) (2010).  Shrinking Cities: International Perspectives and Policy Implications
  4. John Kromer (2010).   Fixing Broken Cities.

Featured city:

  1. Detroit (feature comming soon!)