Avoiding all-encompassing words

I came across the billboard below while on my way to an exhibition.

 Photo by Terry Freedman

Photo by Terry Freedman

Would I be correct in thinking that after the improvements have taken place, the neighbourhood will be back to what it was like before the improvements took place? 

If not, what does the word 'normal' mean in this context?

I think the potential misunderstanding, for literalists like me, arises from the word 'things'. What things in particular? I think words like 'things', 'etc', 'and so on', and so on, can be useful, but I also think that they can be confusing or at least give rise to even more questions. For example, when I am reading an article, and the writer says 'x, y, etc', if I'm not familiar with the subject matter I wonder what might be included under 'etc', and how I could find out.

I try as far as possible to expunge such all-encompassing words and phrases from my own writing, unless it is absolutely clear from the context what 'and so on' etc refers to.