Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – July 2, 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!

Doors as Fence in Detroit, Michigan (Credit: Jen Leonard for Center for Community Progress,  2015)

Doors as Fence in Detroit, Michigan (Credit: Jen Leonard for Center for Community Progress, 2015)


Why the U.S. housing recovery is leaving poorer neighborhoods behind“Economists say lower-income communities have been hit by a confluence of events and factors that have left their communities stuck in a vicious cycle.” Joe Light | Wall Street Journal | June 23, 2015

Supreme Court’s fair housing ruling could boost true neighborhood revitalization“Disparate impact arguments, armed with research, can take aim at policies that might not appear discriminatory, in an era when increasingly sophisticated data helps to illustrate disparities that have been more difficult to capture in the past.” Cassie Owens | Next City *Underwritten by Community Progress | June 26, 2015

EDITORIAL: Affordable housing, racial isolation“Earlier this year, a study […] found that the Twin Cities region had become more segregated, as compared to demographically similar regions like Portland or Seattle, because too large a share of affordable housing has been in impoverished black areas.”Editorial | New York Times | June 29, 2015


New levee garden and exhibit mark site of levee breach“The plan, in the process of being enacted, is to build an open-air exhibit that includes a 90-foot-long pavilion lined with educational panels explaining the many sources of floodwaters that filled the city 10 years ago.” Stephanie Bruno | The New Orleans Advocate | June 24, 2015


An audacious plan for Baltimore’s vacant industrial spaces“New ‘makers spaces’ in a struggling neighborhood could bolster the local economy with small-scale manufacturing opportunities.” Anthony Flint | CityLab | June 18, 2015


Chevy Commons project moves into second phase“‘Chevy in the Hole is in the process of being transformed from a blighted scar into one of the city and the county’s premier green spaces,’ Flint Director of Planning and Development Megan Hunter said.” Ron Fonger | M Live | June 25, 2015

Detroit battles blight through crowdsourced mapping project“In the case of Detroit – a city suffering the most marked depopulation in American history – digital mapping is proving a useful tool in understanding the ongoing crisis of abandoned buildings.” Adam Forrest | Forbes | June 22, 2015

New Jersey

East Orange works to clean up abandoned properties
“‘We’re four square miles. We’ve identified over 600 properties that are vacant and abandoned in our city,’ said Mayor Lester Taylor. […] So far, they’ve identified 30 percent of the absentee owners.” Brenda Flanagan | NJTV News | June 26, 2015

New York

Syracuse land bank sells 150th property; see the full list of sales
“The 50 property sales completed thus far have earned $1.4 million for the land bank, and the buyers have promised to invest another $5 million in renovations, said Katelyn Wright, executive director.'” Tim Knauss | Syracuse.com | June 26, 2015

Capital Region cities awarded up to $1M Public Art Challenge grant
“The joint submission from Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, proposes to illuminate as many as 300 vacant homes in the three cities nightly over two months in fall 2016. […] Beyond that artwork, ‘Breathing Lights’ will culminate in a regional summit on vacant homes and neighborhood revitalization.”
Molly Eadie | Saratogian | June 23, 2015


Land bank use gains popularity across central Ohio
“Just like Columbus, Franklin County and other metropolitan areas, smaller counties are beginning to take steps toward dealing with blight.”
Mary Beth Lane | The Columbus Dispatch | June 29, 2015

West Virginia

Land bank has first open house
“If we can rehab this property and make it someone’s home, that will increase the property value for this entire block.”
Ben Fields | Huntington Herald-Dispatch | June 27, 2015

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Rendition of Performance Space - (Credit:A(n) Office / McEwen Studio, 2015)

Rendition of Performance Space – (Credit:A(n) Office / McEwen Studio, 2015)

From Blight to Stage Right: A damaged house in Detroit’s future as a performance art space
“A group of artists and architects are responding by taking a blighted house in southwest Detroit and transforming it into a performance art space called House Opera | Opera House.”
Eli Newman | WDET | January 20, 2015