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Privatized Transformation of Public Space: Construction of a Marketplace through the Cooptation of a Public Space by Private Enterprise and the Aesthetic of Exclusion/Inclusion

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This paper uses autoethnography, a methodological approach that incorporates the researcher as subject to the research, to examine an urban marketplace in a mid-sized Midwestern American city: Midtown Crossing in Omaha, Nebraska. The development project is not atypical of many projects in other cities in the US, where an arguably neglected public park is co-opted by private development agencies in order to create a space of social interaction, which appeals to a broader community in the city and tourists, and benefits the local and national institutions adjacent to the neighbourhood. The project itself has contributed to the local economy (in terms of jobs and tax revenue), surrounding institutions, and was built with environmental standards in mind. However, it has also redesigned the aesthetic and performative nature the park once held with greater impacts on the surrounding neighbourhood. The imposed aesthetic of this development project governs who belongs and who is left out, determines the 'feel' of new renovation and construction in the neighbourhood, as well as what sort of activity is allowed in the new 'public' space.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2013

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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