Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – August 22, 2014

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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!

Detroit Placemaking


Once-Dilapidated city train stations enjoying a renaissance“With its new restaurants and stores, Denver’s recently reopened Union Station is bustling now. But five years ago, it would have been empty.” Nathan Heffel | NPR | August 14, 2014

Bank of America pays record $16.65B penalty“Bank of America Thursday agreed to pay $16.65 billion to resolve allegations it sold toxic mortgage-backed securities and other financial products in the lead-up to the financial crisis — the largest civil settlement ever between a single firm and the U.S. government.” Kevin McCoy and Kevin Johnson | USA Today | August 21, 2014

In a bank settlement, don’t forget the bulldozers“But even if this largest-ever mortgage settlement goes through as expected, it will fall short if little to no meaningful cash goes to the demolition and repurposing of abandoned homes.” Gretchen Morgenson | New York Times | August 16, 2014


A full house: Birmingham Land Bank Authority to be completed this morning, thousands of vacant properties await distribution“The Birmingham authority created to handle the distribution of thousands of abandoned and blighted properties will finally be complete this morning after final seats are filled.”
Joseph D. Bryant | AL.com | August 19, 2014


Naples to foreclose on property with $105,000 in fines, developer vows to continue project“In a first for Naples, the city Code Enforcement Board unanimously voted to foreclose on a nearly half-acre property after construction halted six years ago, racking up more than $105,000 in fines and liens.” Aisling Swift | Naples News | July 31, 2014


Court orders clean-up at vacant properties“A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge has ordered an absentee Baltimore landlord to clean up about 50 blighted properties within 90 days, the first ruling since a state law was amended two years ago to make it easier for community groups to sue the owners of problem properties.” Natalie Sherman | Baltimore Sun | August 16, 2014


Wayne Co. could reclaim nearly 20K auctioned properties over unpaid bills“A Wayne County judge on Friday gave county officials the authority to take back nearly 20,000 tax foreclosed properties auctioned off to new owners who also didn’t pay bills.” Christine MacDonald | The Detroit News | August 16, 2014

New Jersey

For Camden neighborhood, park project promises to open up a path to the river“This industrial five-acre lot on Camden’s Waterfront South is slated to become Phoenix Park come spring.” Julia Terruso | The Philadelphia Inquirer | August 7, 2014

Survey: Nearly 15 percent of Camden properties abandoned“A two-year project has found 3,417 buildings are abandoned in Camden — a level one expert described as “up there with Detroit.” Kevin Shelly | The Courier-Post | August 14, 2014

New York

NY applications open for $20M land bank funding“The New York Attorney General’s Office says it will take applications to help Land Banks restore abandoned properties with up to $20 million.” Associated Press | Wall Street Journal | August 1, 2014


Milwaukee finds a fix for stormwater overflows: Abandoned basements“Some basement flooding could become happy occurrences, if more cities walk in the watery footsteps of Milwaukee.” Laurena O’Neil | NPR | August 12, 2014

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Photo Credit: Amanda Richards

Photo Credit: Amanda Richards

Dad transforms his block into fun spot for kids, adults
“On the vacant lot next to Dan Davis’ house on Washburn in Detroit, there is a homemade movie screen, a bonfire pit, a swing set, a barbecue grill and weights for working out.”
Ariana Taylor | The Detroit Free Press | August 4, 2014