“How can a small city energize its neighborhoods and reverse years of disinvestment?”

Client: Oswego Renaissance Association

Team Members: Charles Buki, Karen Beck Pooley David Boehlke, Andrea Weinberg

Services: Housing Analysis, Strategy Development, Visioning, Report Creation, Private Sector Engagement, Leadership Development

czb arrived in Oswego in 2012 after residents contacted us seeking help establishing an Oswego neighborhood revitalization project. Oswego has a number of strengths, including its lakefront, a system of beautiful and walkable neighborhoods, and a number of anchor institutions, including a strong public university. But the city had also been experiencing years of decline in its neighborhoods and commercial corridors. Between 2013 and 2014, we worked with leaders of the Oswego Renaissance Association, a local non-profit group, to establish the the non-profit and develop a strategy for neighborhood reinvestment.

We conducted field surveys of the city's 5,681 residential properties, analyzed more than 10,000 sales transactions, conducted more than 120 in-person interviews on streets across the city — all designed to help us understand current housing market conditions and discern where opportunities for additional investment existed.
Our final report to Oswego identified four key middle-market sub-areas that we believed would be key to Oswego’s neighborhood growth and stabilization. We advised that these sub-areas should be the springboard for Oswego’s future neighborhood revitalization activities.

Project Outcomes

The creation of the Oswego Renaissance Association (ORA), a non-profit dedicated to the promotion, development, restoration, and preservation of healthy, vibrant neighborhoods and communities.

ORA programs have facilitated the investment of over $1 million in local neighborhood improvements.

Creation of a Zoning and Planning Director position at Oswego City Hall.

The City of Oswego has been awarded many planning grants, including $10 million for downtown revitalization projects and nearly $1 million for other key planning projects in the city.

Since the publication of our final report, Oswego officials and residents have made major gains.  More than 240 Oswego families have participated in the Oswego Renaissance Association’s new Block Challenge Program, enabling them to make significant investments in their homes.  The program has already encouraged the investment of more than $1 million in local neighborhood improvement activities. The City of Oswego also created a new Zoning and Planning Director position. The person they hired for the role has helped the city successfully apply for more than $10 million in grants in support of the city's planning activities.
For current updates, please visit the ORA’s website: