Growth (fore) stalled: Property developers, land holding and the urge to develop Lexington, Kentucky

Authors: Andrew Wood*, University of Kentucky, Kevin Ward*, University of Manchester
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: Property development, urban politics
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom B, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The concepts and frameworks used to study the politics of urban development in the United States commonly position the relationship between business interests and local government at the center of understanding the politics of urban development. Recent work has sought to expand beyond an initial emphasis on the promotion of growth to encompass the range of economic conditions and circumstances that have characterized US cities over the past thirty years. While this work has expanded on the changing position and condition of the local state – including work on its fiscal condition in light of financial crisis and austerity– concern with the business interests that link with the state has been less scrutinized.

In this paper, we revisit the classic frameworks to review exactly what they say about business interests and, in particular, their claims about land and property developers in promoting urban development. Rather than simply provide one more case study prefaced by the traditional ideas, we use contemporary events in Lexington, Kentucky to raise a number of questions about the logics and practices that animate property developers in the development of the contemporary American city. Rather than emphasize the collective urgency to develop, we suggest that under certain conditions the holding of property proves key to determining the political dynamics of urban development.

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