In the mid 1990's I decided to do your exact thing, find areas designated as growth opportunities. So I walked into the City Planners offices and got a tour of proposed projects. What I found was this:
A) The City of Los Angeles was in the process to start a mass transit underground subway. I saw proposed routes. This was the Redline.
B) The Redevelopment Department was planning a 16 million dollar budget to upgrade store fronts and re-do a three block area (streets and sidewalks) with new plants, etc. This was along Vermont Ave. between Beverly Blvd. and Third Street.
C) The City was also starting a Mandatory Code Inspection for multi-units. Meaning all slumlords now had to fix up their properties or face the music.
So I knew the area to invest (along the subway route and near Beverly and Vermont. I also knew that Slumlords would have a fire sale. So during the next few years I purchased buildings within short walking distance to the new subway system. My timeline was 6 to 12 years, from purchase to sale. Things went up from 300% to 400%, so with a small down payment (20-25%) and a lot of sweet equity, I could clean up.
I also looked at other factors, other neighborhoods and other opportunities. Like Student Housing near colleges. Office condo's in business districts. Retail stores near offices high rises. And buying strip malls with massive tenant improvements like franchise business that have to leave the equipment behind that's affixed to the property.
My limits were time and money. I only had so much of each. So I did what I could when I could.. Never relying on anyone for help or money. People will always let you down in a pinch. I hope this gives you some ideas... In any market, you can find a deal.. --47.155.xx.xxx