Date of Award

August 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Anne Bonds

Committee Members

Judith T. Kenny, Rina Ghose


Branding, Goverance, Lindsay Heights, Neoliberalism






Rodney Ranken

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2013

Under the Supervision of Professor Anne Bonds

A 1994 Fannie Mae report on poverty in America identified 20 census tracts in the city of Milwaukee that had the third fastest rate of growth in poverty in the nation, behind only areas in Detroit and Los Angeles. This prompted The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) to initiate a redevelopment program that came to be known as Lindsay Heights. This study will ascertain what the impetus was for the Lindsay Heights Redevelopment Project and analyze the role that neoliberal governance played in its implementation. I will also examine how ideas of nostalgia and branding of the neighborhood played a role in this process. This study will also, through quantitative analysis, ascertain whether the project has achieved its stated goals and, through the use of MPROP block level data, evaluate how the project has affected the community.

The Lindsay Heights project seems to have had some measurable success in attaining its goals. Property values went up disproportionately when compared to the city of Milwaukee as a whole; the tax base increased; and over 160 vacant sites were filled. By introducing new construction to neighborhoods whose existing housing stock was built mostly around the turn of the last century, developers virtually guaranteed that the neighborhoods where these new homes were built would be mixed-income, due to the drastic differences in home value between new and existing homes. In addition, the installation of new homes in the project area has increased owner-occupancy rates and had the effect of increasing the value of existing homes.

This study shows how the redevelopment of Milwaukee's Lindsay Heights neighborhood is the result of a particular form of neoliberalism that manifests itself through slightly nuanced neoliberal processes such as quasi-public-private partnerships, as well as specific branding of the city--and the Lindsay Heights neighborhood--that embraces working class values and New Urbanist development philosophies. The branding of the city as a "genuine American city" and the promotion of New Urbanist ideology allowed city leaders to trade on Milwaukee's working class heritage to create a sense of place that promoted hard work and perseverance over government handouts. It is clear that the Lindsay Heights project has been successful in achieving many of its goals while working within the framework of traditional neoliberalism; however, it is not clear that the project addressed the core issues, such as poverty, that caused the initial decline of the neighborhood.