Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – May 30, 2014

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This is our twice-monthly round-up of the top stories about vacant, abandoned, and problem properties. These headlines are shared for informational purposes only; sharing does not indicate endorsement. (Missed the last post? Its archived on our blog.) We offer up highlights here, but follow us on Twitter for all the latest headlines, in real time. And we’re scouring the web so you don’t have to, but if you have a headline to share, feel free to email us!

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Flint Downtown Buildings


An economic defense of old buildings“Jane Jacobs, a woman akin to the patron saint of urban planners, first argued 50 years ago that healthy neighborhoods need old buildings.” Emily Badger | Washington Post | May 15, 2014

Mayors, foundation leaders at Legacy Cities Roundtable“Mayors from post-industrial cities in the Northeast and Midwest will arrive at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy today to begin a two-day workshop in strategies for revitalization.” Press Release | Wall Street Journal  | May 20, 2014

The case for reparations“Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.” Ta-Nehisi Coates | The Atlantic | May 21, 2014


Economist with Mass. roots to lead land-use think tank“The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, a Cambridge-based think tank focused on land use, announced Monday the appointment of economist George W. McCarthy as its next president.” Jennifer Smith | The Boston Globe  | May 20, 2014


Looking for reclaimed wood? The City of Detroit joins the salvage business“Salvaging historical materials from blighted houses set for demolition has long been an urban pastime, but now, the city of Detroit wants to get in the game as part of Mayor Mike Duggan’s blight removal strategy.” Bill Bradley | Next City | May 21, 2014

5 ways JPMorgan Chase will spend $100 million to improve Detroit“Chase will invest $25 million in Detroit’s blight removal efforts. Of that, $5 million will go to the Detroit Land Bank Authority for adding and training staff.” Jon Gallagher | Detroit Free Press | May 20, 2014

A remedy for blight: Habitat for Humanity renovations help transform neighborhood“Three vacant houses have surrounded Angie Walenski’s longtime home on Rambling Road in Ypsilanti Township for years.” Lizzy Alfs | M Live | May 22, 2014

An energized Detroit Land Bank leads Duggan’s blight effort“About a year before Mike Duggan ran for mayor, he invited Erica Ward Gerson, the chairperson of Children’s Hospital of Michigan, to lunch to seek her advice.” John Gallagher | Detroit Free Press  | May 27, 2014

New York

Cities need to be protected from “zombies”“Cities like Schenectady are being threatened by zombies.” Editorial | Daily Gazette  | May 19, 2014


2414 Morgan Development: Does Cincinnati need a housing court?“Cincinnati is already using many of the tools that other cities have found successful in putting vacant buildings back into productive use, but there is one glaring exception.” Dan Monk and Lucy May | WCPO  | May 20, 2014

Brownfield grants to be used to redevelop abandoned properties“New life could soon be coming to some vacant and abandoned properties in the city of Columbus.” Jennifer Jarrell | WBNS | May 19, 2014

Cuyahoga Land Bank helps U.S. military veteran purchase Euclid home at greatly discounted rate“There was a popular song during and after the American Civil War which was sung on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.” Leon Bibb | ABC Cleveland | May 23, 2014

Rhode Island

College provides $750,000 to fight blight at its doorstep“Plenty of urban colleges struggle with neighborhood blight, and Providence College is among them.” Don Troop  | The Chronicle of Higher Education | May 16, 2014


A tale of two startups: Reducing recidivism, reviving vacant lots“Semi-permanent, modular structures to make crime-prone vacant lots safer.” Anne Field | Forbes | May 25, 2014

Decrepit Philadelphia row home, a symbol of history and blight, to be memorialized at funeral“A rundown row house in the impoverished Mantua section of Philadelphia had a colorful, centurylong record of occupancy before its last longtime residents died and it became a symbol of urban blight.” Kathy Matheson  | Associated Press | May 26, 2014

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Photo Credit: Steve Weinik for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

Photo Credit: Steve Weinik for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

Fighting urban blight with art“One hardly thinks of the folks at Amtrak as modern-day Medicis, but the government-subsidized company aspires to be more than just a passenger rail line.” Jessica Dawson | Wall Street Journal | May 13, 2014