Unleash the Swarm: A New E-book on Reviving Small-Scale Development

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Who built your city?

Who builds your city?

And are the answers to those two questions the same?

Until the past few decades, if you didn’t build your own home or place of business, you likely weren’t that far removed from the person who did. They might have been your neighbor, relative, or acquaintance. America’s great cities and towns grew, often at breathtaking speed, through the work of many hands. Today, though, we experience almost all real-estate development as the province of Developers with a capital D. Big, aloof, corporate entities who go where the money is.

Unleash the Swarm: Reviving Small-Scale Development in America’s Cities is a new Strong Towns e-book that explores what it would take to revive small-scale development as a force significant enough to shape and grow our cities. Not a handful of intrepid entrepreneurs here and there, but a “swarm” of many times more builders and rehabbers, all working independently but collectively to create great places. Think of them as the pollinators of the city.

Whether you’re an active or aspiring developer yourself, a city planner or policy maker, or a resident interested in the patterns behind how the place you live came to be, Unleash the Swarm is written for you. And now it’s a downloadable e-book for easier reading and sharing.

This book covers, among other things:

  • How small-scale development, writ large, once met the needs of even rapidly growing cities—and why relying on only big developers to meet those needs today is a losing proposition.

  • How local regulations hinder the viability of small-scale development, and what developers and policy makers can do about it.

  • How access to finance is a challenge for small developers, as well as a key reason for the bland monocultures that characterize what gets built today.

  • How incremental infill development can produce bigger returns and more community wealth, while requiring far less public subsidy, than a single big project on the same site.

  • A special case study of how innovators in South Bend, Indiana, are demonstrating what it looks like to build a shared community of expertise and insight around the goal of community revitalization through small-scale development.

Click here to get your copy of Unleash the Swarm. Happy reading—and maybe building!

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