Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties

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This is our twice-monthly round-up of news stories covering challenges related to vacant, abandoned, and problem 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!

Mt. Vernon Neighborhood in Baltimore | Credit: Luke Telander for Community Progress

Mt. Vernon Neighborhood in Baltimore | Credit: Luke Telander for Community Progress


Here’s what’s becoming of America’s dead shopping malls“Chances are your local mall is hurting. There are roughly 1,200 enclosed malls in the U.S. and only about a third of them are doing well.” Steve Inskeep  | NPR | September 10, 2014

Repurposing old train stations in the Rust Belt“The CTRC’s efforts are part of a larger phenomenon of rail station preservation occurring throughout the Rust Belt, including places such as Cincinnati’s Union Terminal, and Detroit’s Michigan Central Station.” Alexa C. Kurzius  | Belt Magazine  | September 2, 2014


Sacramento considering allowing urban farming to fight blight, promote farm-to-fork“Part of the push is to bring home the Farm to Fork movement, but also more urban farms could be a way to clean up the city.” Ian Schwartz | CBS Sacramento | September 10, 2014


Larry Riley: Abandoned housing, blight back on stage“The initiative is aimed at bringing together public and private interests to address abandoned housing and blight.” Larry Riley | The Star Press | September 6, 2014


Trying to beat back the blight on North Avenue“North Avenue, possibly the longest, straightest east-west street in Baltimore, provides a snapshot of how urban blight affects the city.” P. Kenneth Burns | WYPR | September 8, 2014


Flint Civic Park booster: $2.6 million for demolition should ‘make a whole lot of difference’“‘Approximately six years ago when we came to this area, we recognized that this is a special area — a beautiful place — that had been forgotten by many people …,’ McCathern said. ‘We believed that if we could bring this (place) back, it could (be done) anywhere in America.’”Ron Fonger | M Live | September 10, 2014

Detroit raises safety in residential razings“The city in May rolled out regulations for its contractors, hired watchdogs to monitor demolitions and mounted an aggressive campaign to inform residents how to guard against dust and debris that pose potential health risks.” Christine Ferretti | The Detroit News | September 8, 2014


Economic woes hit East Toledo hard“In order for the east side to stage a comeback, the area would need an influx of businesses, jobs, and city support.” Kris Turner | Toledo Blade | September 9, 2014


Walking tour of Scranton block reveals property microcosm of good, bad“A quality-of-life ticket, an anti-blight equivalent of a parking ticket, is an alternative to a citation that has to go through a court and is more complicated and time-consuming. ” Jim Lockwood | The Times-Tribune | September 13, 2014


A promising project: Training Milwaukee workers while demolishing boarded up properties“‘Part of the problem is deconstructing a home, currently, is almost twice the cost of mechanical demolition,’ Roberts says. ‘So, if we can train people and bring down the cost, we can make deconstruction a reality.’” Bob Bach, Michelle Maternowski | WUWM | September 10, 2014

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

House of Gold - Photo Credit: Dee Briggs

House of Gold – Photo Credit: Dee Briggs


Artist who painted Wilkinsburg house raises funds for ‘gentle demolition’ “Joy Nelson-Peters stood on the corner of Swissvale and Park avenues in Wilkinsburg, recalling a time when the old, crumbling house before her was a home.” Read more and take a few minutes to meet the House of Gold
Chris Togneri | Trib LIVE | September 13, 2014

Editor’s Note: In our last Bright Spot, we included a photo we took on a tour of Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative’s Saratoga Street Fruit Tree Orchard. Check out their great work in New Orleans, and connect on Twitter,!