Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – April 10, 2015

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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!

Headlines will be going on a brief hiatus during the month of May as we prepare to see you in Detroit at the 2015 Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference! If you haven’t registered yet, information on our conference can be found here.

Downtown shops in Rochester, New York (Credit: Center for Community Progress,  2014)

Downtown shops in Rochester, New York (Credit: Center for Community Progress, 2014)


Fighting blight: A conversation with Charles Coney “‘What we’re hoping to do is define our blight plan so that it’s not government-driven only. It is a collaborative effort through the entire community,’ [said Assistant County Manager Charles Coney].” Leah Fleming | The Telegraph | April 12, 2015


Empty feeling“Aurora officials are working on a new measure that would strengthen the city’s ability to keep vacant buildings from deteriorating and becoming blighted.” Steve Lord | Chicago Tribune | April 17, 2015


Blight elimination program gets underway in Indiana“A blighted property in the northwestern Indiana town of East Chicago was the first to be demolished last week as part of Indiana’s Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program (BEP), according to an announcement from Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann.” Brian Honea | DS News| April 13, 2015


Detroit to reveal finance plan for potential homeowners“The city is scheduled Thursday to unveil a financing program aimed at helping residents become homeowners.”Christine Ferretti | The Detroit News  | April 16, 2015

Taking back Detroit: Portraits of the Motor City by Wayne Lawrence“Hear from the die-hard natives and upbeat newcomers who are reimagining Detroit, playing out their dreams, or reveling in the once neglected city’s revival.” Wayne Lawrence | National Geographic | April 15, 2015

Hantz Woodlands to plant 5,000 more trees on once-blighted lots in Detroit
“The land, nearly 180 acres, is a collection of abandoned lots last owned by the city of Detroit following years of foreclosure.”
Gus Burns | M Live  | April 18, 2015

New York

‘Zombie’ properties blight on neighborhoods
“Between January 2014 and January 2015, zombie foreclosures rose by 52 percent in the Census-defined Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown metropolitan statistical area, according to the report […]”
Leonard Sparks | Times Herald-Record  | April 11, 2015

Syracuse seeing improvements with vacant eyesores
“It’s been two years since the City of Syracuse started cracking down with a Vacant Property Registry telling homeowners to fix the eyesores or face fines.”
WSYR | April 11, 2015


A garden grew in North Philly
“’Well, it’s the people who fixed up this lot, not the city, not any nonprofit. And then they put a fence around it,’ [said Ron Whyte, a volunteer at the garden.] […] PHA spokeswoman Nichole Tillman said last night that the authority would work with Peace Park activists to find a new location for the garden on Stewart Street.”
Valerie Russ | Philadelphia Daily News | April 15, 2015

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Credit: Vacant Home Tour, 2015.

Credit: Vacant Home Tour, 2015.

Wilkinsburg tour to highlight blight in hopes of spurring redevelopment
“The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation and a group of Carnegie Mellon University students hope to highlight hidden beauty in the borough and reframe how people see vacant properties […]”

“At each house, volunteer docents from the neighborhood, who researched the homes’ histories and owners, will present old photos or documents to show the houses in their heydays, said Marlee Gallagher, communications and outreach coordinator for the CDC.”
Matthew Santoni | Trib LIVE | April 12, 2015