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Madison Gharghoury, Development Associate and Special Assistant to the President/CEO

Developing a Shared Vision and Strategies to Address Vacancy and Abandonment in the City of St. Louis

A Community Progress Technical Assistance Report

Published: June 2016


Author(s): Center for Community Progress

In September 2015, Community Progress — through our technical assistance scholarship program — worked with the Land Reutilization Authority of the City of St. Louis to evaluate LRA’s policies and systems impacting their inventory of properties.

LRA’s property inventory has remained steady in size over the past four decades, at about 11,000 properties, although the physical and marketable quality of that inventory has continued to decline.

Community Progress identified the following observations:

  • There is no unified City vision regarding the elimination of vacancy and abandonment
  • There is no executive-level point person responsible for ensuring consistency in communication and collaboration within and outside of City Hall regarding vacant and abandoned properties
  • There are capable and committed individuals within LRA, City, community, and nonprofit sectors who care about the issue of vacancy and abandonment and have a deep understanding of why this needs to be a priority of the City
  • Different stakeholders are managing a multitude of vacant and abandoned property-related initiatives and data points, but these efforts are not being coordinated
  • The inventory of the LRA has held steady at 11,000 properties due to a variety of factors, some of which include challenging market conditions, deteriorating physical state of properties, and lack of marketable and insurable title for potential transferees.
  • Most properties acquired by the LRA through tax enforcement proceedings have been tax-delinquent and abandoned for up to seven or more years and have not received of constitutionally adequate notice of enforcement proceedings. Therefore they do not have a marketable and insurable title for potential transferees.

Based on these observations, we focused our technical assistance on developing a general vision as well as prioritizing strategies to address vacancy and abandonment; and assessing the property acquisition (intake) system of the LRA.

Published: June 2016


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