This is our twice-monthly round-up of news stories covering challenges related to vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties — and how communities are transforming these properties into assets. (The headlines are for informational purposes only; inclusion does not indicate endorsement.) If you’d like to get this round-up in your inbox, join our email list!
In flood-hit public housing, a reminder that the poor bear brunt of storms’ fury“[Keisha Monk] is also being reminded, in the way low-income residents of New Orleans were reminded after Hurricane Katrina, that the poor are always vulnerable — to the vagaries of the real estate market and to the perceived value of their residences in good times and the ravages of Mother Nature when disaster hits.”Richard Fausset | The New York Times | September 17, 2018
The trouble with TIF“Critics often charge that [TIF] funnels money out of the taxpayers’ pockets into a special fund that, by and large, works in a pretty opaque manner. While some of that money funds essential public works, much has also gone towards erecting new Whole Foods, renovating glitzy hotels, and building stadiums—the type of projects, one might argue, should not require such incentives.” Tanvi Misra | CityLab | September 12, 2018
NIMBYs dominate local zoning meetings“Instead of generating a more vibrant local democracy, participation in community meetings skews toward older, more affluent, and more invested groups. As such, meeting commentary presents an incomplete portrait of the opinions of the electorate, and serves as a mechanism for reinforcing NIMBYism, suppressing housing development, and exacerbating political and economic inequality.” Richard Florida | CityLab | September 6, 2018
Kansas City, Kansas rolling our new registry to track down negligent property owners“‘If you don’t register, the fines go up. But you also have to submit a plan about what you’re going to do with your vacant property. Because your neighbors didn’t sign up to have this as their neighbor,’ [Tiberius] Laughlin said.” Sarah Plake | KSHB 41 | September 18, 2018
From abandoned lots to Eastside Gateway: Eleven parcels rebuilt to renew neighborhood “‘Folks talked about wanting a visual presence on East Michigan and something aesthetically pleasing, something that would incorporate sustainability, natural plantings, encourage bees and butterflies, and have a mixed use,’ [Kelly] Clarke says. ‘So that’s where the idea of both housing and the pocket park came about.'” Kathy Jennings | Second Wave | September 13, 2018
Higher rents, ‘massive displacement’: The unknown cost of Detroit’s landlord crackdown“But while the rental inspection and registration program is designed to improve living conditions for people like [Lillie] McGee, there’s fear that it will squeeze mom and pop landlords along with the big slumlords the city is targeting — leading to rent increases for Detroiters who can least afford them.” Violet Ikonomova | Detroit Metro Times | August 29, 2018
Remake of Washington Avenue in Minneapolis enters final phase“The 20-year transformation of Washington Avenue S. in downtown Minneapolis is headed toward a finale that features five projects worth more than a half-billion dollars that would turn the area’s last surface parking lots into residences, shops and offices.” Jim Buchta and Nicole Norfleet | StarTribune | September 9, 2018
A former Springfield industrial site has a beautiful new use, thanks to several area groups“The renovation project is a joint effort between Keep Clark County Beautiful, National Trail Parks & Recreation District, Clark County Land Bank and the City of Springfield. ‘The field will ‘beautify our community’ in an area that was ‘an eyesore to the neighborhood,” said Leann Castillo, director of NTPRD.” Lucas Gonzalez | Springfield News-Sun | August 17, 2018
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
Flower farms transform vacant lots on Detroit’s east side“Nancy Weigandt and Tom Milano of the Garden Detroit had been cleaning up vacant land as volunteers for years. Both experienced gardeners, they understood the potential for turning blighted land into a place of beauty, and started working with the Land Bank to acquire vacant lots. They intended on planting vegetables, but neighbors worried they might attract rats, so now flowers create a sanctuary on the lots on Manistique Street.”Robin Runyan | Curbed Detroit | September 4, 2018