[You can find the original uncropped screenshot here.]Brick City posted the above image under the title "City Struggles." Along with the image are the following questions:
What do we do with areas like this?
Do we let a developer come in and create a New Town St. Charles or Winghaven? Do we build suburban style housing on the existing street grid? Do we restore the homes that are currently here and build historic replicas around them?
What should we do?
Of the three alternatives you've laid out, I would answer, "No, no, and no."
Bringing in a developer to wipe a clean slate (bulldoze history, culture, and people) might be economically viable, but it displaces the existing residents literally and figuratively. This is wrong. Not merely in a moral sense, but with respect to the overall costs to society and the environment. Displacing people and communities simply pushes problems around and creates a defensive, separatist attitude.
Building suburban style housing on the existing street grid would be disastrous. The street itself would be destroyed except for the use of the automobile. If you're going to go suburban, you might as well rip up the sidewalks. It won't really matter all that much if you maintain the street grid or modify it. The suburban house is a poor model to follow in general and in an urban setting, it is positively destructive and deadening. It results in people being alienated from their environments and from each other.
Restoring the existing homes should absolutely be considered. Even if the cost is greater than the cost of demolishing and rebuilding, there is a sense of history and place inherent in these structures that can help to guide new construction in the area. A completely clean slate is a bad way to start. Why? Because it allows developers / builders / designers to effectively ignore the context and the site's history. Doing so paves the way for anonymous, lowest common denominator, completely "non-offensive" real estate driven investment (i.e. profiteering).
What should we do? Let me think of this a little, although I believe there is a suggestion in my above comments of the appropriate course of action which mediates between complete obliteration of the existing fabric and an attempt at historical replication.
An outline: Rebuild using the principles established by the urban design as it existed. That is, replicate the conceptual fabric for creating a new community that is based directly upon the pre-existing situation. Then, build structures that are honest, direct expressions of the needs, functions, materials, and construction methods used in creating the new homes.
So the figure-ground image of the fully developed neighborhood might resemble the pre-existing figure ground (but not replicate it). The homes would varying in style and type. The homes would not need to necessarily be brick or follow the typology of the existing buildings. Consideration for the existing buildings should be a factor in the design of the new structures, but not the primary determinant of the exterior form.
Otherwise, the exteriors become false masks over suburban crap without character or meaning.
Does that help at all?