Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – October 16, 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!

Downtown Butte, MT (Credit: Jennifer Leonard, 2014)

Downtown Butte, MT (Credit: Jennifer Leonard, 2014)


Golden Age for cities? Not so fast“What Mallach found undermines the notion of a new ‘Golden Age’ for cities, in which both millennials and their parents, the ‘empty-nester’ baby boomers, are giving up the suburban lifestyle and moving back into the cities at significant rates.” John Gallagher  | Detroit Free Press  | October 5, 2014


Topeka officials advocate new laws to help address vacant properties“One major need, Topeka city attorney Chad Sublet said, is changing the legal definition of abandoned. Current law states a property is abandoned if it owes two years of back taxes and has been vacant for at least 90 days.”Aly Van Dyke  | The Topeka Capital Journal  | October 10, 2014


City’s expanded lot maintenance aims to tackle blight“The city hopes to clean up about a hundred properties a month with the help of the community and civic groups.” Read More
Terry DeMio | cincinnati.com | October 8, 2014

Access Ventures settles into Shelby Park with co-working space, community art projects“The pilot program provides city assistance in getting blighted properties — often vacant and with liens for city work done to maintain the outside property — into prospective developers’ hands.”Rachel Aretakis | Louisville Business Journal | October 10, 2014


G-Sync: Land bank’s big deal“The undercover operative thought that was the end of the story, but the man kept going, saying that since he forms an LLC for the venture to act as the purchaser for the property, he simply collects the rent for three years but does not pay the taxes, letting the home fall back into the system and out of his hands.” Tommy Allen | Rapid Growth Media | October 9, 2014

Tax deadbeats targeted at annual foreclosure auction“Most county auction buyers don’t pay their taxes. As of this summer, nearly 78 percent of the 29,000 properties purchased at the county tax auction since October 2011 were tax delinquent.” Christine MacDonald | The Detroit News | October 8, 2014

Snyder OKs blight funding for 12 Michigan cities
“Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday announced the U.S. Treasury has authorized use of $75 million to combat blight in 12 Michigan cities.”
Christine Ferretti | The Detroit News | October 10, 2014

New Jersey

Editorial: Transform into action proposals to recover Trenton’s vacant properties“The completed tally shows an astounding 6,300 deserted spots, nearly one-quarter of the city’s properties … Mayor Eric Jackson’s administration has proposed a five-part response.” Editorial | Times of Trenton | October 12, 2014


An artist battles blight with a coat of gold paint“When she drove by one day and saw her house resplendent in gold, she sought out the person responsible for the makeover.” Irina Zhorov | WHYY | October 6, 2014

Editorial: Banking on reform“In approving the land bank’s creation, City Council would not give up its veto power over land transactions, which leaves intact part of a system that has been used in the past to hold up worthy projects for political and other reasons.”Editorial | philly.com | October 14, 2014

West Virginia

How can West Virginia towns get rid of dilapidated properties?“Representatives from twelve communities from across the state are in Huntington learning ways to deal with dilapidated and empty properties.” Clark Davis | WV Public Broadcasting | October 8, 2014

W.Va. gets high marks for tackling blighted properties“Alexander said the formation of the Huntington Land Bank and the work going on in multiple communities throughout West Virginia show the state’s commitment to being a leader in BAD property redevelopment.” Shane Arrington | Huntington Herald-Dispatch | October 9, 2014

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Clean vacant lot in Youngstown, OH (Credit Jen Leonard for the Center for Community Progress)

Clean vacant lot in Youngstown, OH (Credit Jen Leonard for the Center for Community Progress)


Place-based education motivates, connects learning to community
“Artist and organizer Joan Vorderbruggen envisions possibilities for the most dejected spaces, transforming vacant storefronts into magical, whimsical worlds.”
Nina Ignaczak | SW Michigan’s Second Wave | October 9, 2014