Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – August 8, 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.)

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Photo Credit: Tony Fischer

Photo Credit: Tony Fischer


How much cleaning up brownfields is really worth“The authors conclude that, ‘averaging over the experiences at a nationally representative sample of brownfield properties, cleanup leads to housing price increases between 4.9 percent and 32.2 percent.’” Kriston Capps | The Atlantic City Lab | July 29, 2014


City solicits developers for 27 vacant properties“In its largest disposition of city-owned property in recent history, the Department of Housing and Community Development offered up 27 vacant properties across six sites for development this week.” Aaron Wiener | Washington City Paper | July 18, 2014


The PrivateBank pledges $10 million to vacant home rehabs“The PrivateBank is committing $10 million in financing to the Cook County Land Bank’s efforts to acquire and rehab distressed vacant homes and then sell them at cost to consumers.” Mary Ellen Podmolik | Chicago Tribune | July 24, 2014


Lexington crackdown on abandoned properties is likely to bring higher taxes for violators“The lime-green Seventh Street Community Center sticks out in the strip of vacant and abandoned houses on Lexington’s East Seventh Street.”
Beth Musgrave and Linda Johnson | Lexington herald-Leader | August 4, 2014


Can a Baltimore neighborhood avoid the pitfalls of gentrification?“When Phillip Turner moved into the Greenmount West neighborhood in 1981, barely a 10-minute walk from the train lines of Baltimore City’s Penn Station, he was optimistic. ” Andrew Zaleski | Next City | August 4, 2014


Razing expectations: As vacant houses glut market, Battle Creek looks to demolition to fight blight“Two blocks south of the Post Foods plant, in a neighborhood that long ago was known for its pristine upkeep, sit two adjacent homes on Marjorie Street.” Jennifer Bowman | Battle Creek Enquirer | July 27, 2014


Artists look to tackle neighborhood blight, one vacant lot at a time“On a humid Saturday morning in late July, a dozen young artists were knee-deep into one of the Ivanhoe neighborhood’s 500 vacant lots.” Caroline Bauman | The Kansas City Star | July 28, 2014


With Omaha Municipal Land Bank approved, what’s next?“Now that the Omaha Municipal Land Bank has been OK’d, the challenge is to create an agency that will make a difference in the chronic deterioration of north and South Omaha neighborhoods.” Christopher Burbach | Omaha World-Herald | July 27, 2014

New York

‘Buffalo’s out of town property owners: just more absentee landlords?“It’s no secret Buffalo has its fair share of vacant properties. In fact, there are thousands of empty homes across the city.” Al Vaughters | WIVB | July 24, 2014

Editorial: Good signs for our cities“Through all that, we can rebuild neighborhoods, house by house and block by block, yielding urban centers that thrive once again.”
Editorial | The Times-Union | August 4, 2014


Tending to vacant lot can lead to ownership“The Mow to Own program lets owners living next door to vacant lots in the city’s land bank earn ‘sweat equity’ through their upkeep of the land.” Dominic Binkley | The Columbus Dispatch | July 26, 2014

Youngstown mayor focusing on demos, blight remediation, code enforcement“When running for mayor, John A. McNally said it was vital to overhaul and improve the city’s demolition and code-enforcement practices to make them more efficient.” David Skolnick | The Youngstown Vindicator | August 3, 2014


New Westmoreland County land bank cleans up blighted lots“Two abandoned houses in West Newton are scheduled to be demolished later this year, the first project of the newly formed Westmoreland County Land Bank, which has a mission to buy and eliminate blighted properties.” Debra Duncan | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | July 24, 2014

Municipal officials schooled in ways to end blight in region“Here’s how pervasive the problem of blighted property is in Western Pennsylvania: The Steel Valley Council of Governments scheduled a meeting Thursday to distribute “Blight to Bright: A Comprehensive Anti-Blight Toolkit” to about 50 local officials but had to move the event to a gymnasium when more than 150 signed up for the program.” Ed Blazina | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | July 25, 2014

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Photo Credit: Watie White

Photo Credit: Watie White

In north Omaha, art briefly brings condemned homes to life
“A lot of this project is in response to the idea that these houses have no value,” White said, “the idea that you could build value in everything they touched. I tried to give weight to that. And the biggest part of that is the people.”
Casey Logan | Omaha World-Herald | July 19, 2014