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What Is a Teardown?

Teardowns are a controversial subject, and the debate extends to the definition of the term. What precisely is a teardown, and what distinguishes it from other forms of redevelopment? In this report, teardowns have been defined as one-to-one replacements of housing stock – essentially, tearing down an existing house and constructing another larger house in its place.

Other forms of redevelopment are also important to consider in the Regional Comprehensive Plan, but will not be addressed in this white paper. For example, this paper avoids the topic of gentrification, though teardowns and gentrification are often related. While this is an important issue for the plan to address, CMAP will seek to understand this topic through other research.

As defined in this paper, teardowns also differ from other types of redevelopment in the condition of the structures they often replace. While many revitalization projects can renovate blighted, vacant, or obsolete construction, teardowns often replace structures that are functional, well-maintained, and valued by the community. This is often a subjective distinction, but is important to focus the scope of this paper.

What is your reaction to this definition of teardowns? Is this how you would define a teardown in your community? If not, how?

What is the difference between teardowns and revitalization? When is each of these good or bad for a community?

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