Date of Award

Spring 1986

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Studies

Committee Director

Wolfgang Pindur

Committee Director

R. Wilson

Committee Member

Leonard I. Ruchelman

Committee Member

Petra Snowden

Committee Member

Roger Richman


This study focuses on downtown revitalization. It examines the effect of public investment in Downtown Norfolk in relation to various theories that have been developed to explain the growth of the central cores of cities.

A chronology is presented of the events that marked the beginning and the first fifty years of redevelopment in Downtown Norfolk, Virginia. Through reliance on newspaper articles, interviews and other documented sources, a record is provided that attempts to give deeper insight into the struggle that transformed slums and blight in downtown to a revitalized center of social and economic activity. This historical review allows the reader to relate Norfolk's experience with the experiences of other cities.

Criteria are identified that have been determined from research references to be valid and reliable indicators of downtown revitalization. Then based on data from primary sources, interpretations are made to show the impact of various Federal, State and local programs on the revitalization of Norfolk's Downtown. These programs include the Urban Renewal Program, General Revenue Sharing, Community Block Grants, Urban Development Action Grants, Tax Exempt Bonds, Federal and State Highway Programs, and local public Capital Improvement Programs.

The case study provides a basis for model building for older cities with deteriorating Central Business Districts. The analysis examines planning and implementation in downtown redevelopment and conservation activities and identifies those programs in Norfolk that have been the most effective in achieving the goal of a revitalized downtown.

Conclusions are drawn from findings that reinforce the premise that when an area becomes blighted, substantial clearance is essential in order to: (1) eleminate blight; (2) prevent future blight through proper land use controls; (3) change traffic patterns to make the experience of being in Downtown a pleasant one; (4) rid the Downtown of incompatible uses; and (5) achieve social and economic benefits in the most cost effective way.