City of Fairmont Makes Great Strides to Battle Blight

PHOTO – A dilapidated home within the city of Fairmont

In Fairmont, over 300 buildings sit vacant, abandoned or dilapidated.

Some have sat for years in disrepair after their owners died or moved away. Others are owned by heirs who live out of state, and simply forgot about them.

But the residents who live next to them and the city government which has authority over them haven’t forgot.

“As people moved out, who was there to maintain their properties?” City Manager Robin Gomez said. “For many of them, nobody did.”

Read the full story from The Times West Virginia here.

Philly Streets Get Test of Jane Jacobs’ “Eyes on the Street” Effect

Jane Jacobs outside of her home on Spadina Road

In the five-and-a-half decades since Jane Jacobs published “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” her core contention — that urban vitality and safety are a function of small-scale density, a mixture of uses and “eyes on the street” — has become conventional wisdom in urban theory. But the impact that that notion has enjoyed can be attributed, in large part, to the poetic force of Jacobs’ delivery: The idea that an active “sidewalk ballet” makes neighborhoods safe as well as vibrant seems to jibe with daily experience. Can data bear it out?

According to a new study, maybe.

Read the full story from the Next City here.

Can Rehabilitating Historic Buildings Help W.Va.’s Economy?

Photo Credit: Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


West Virginia’s historic rehabilitation tax credit was put in place to encourage developers and property owners to take some of the state’s crumbling, historic structures and get them back into working order. The credit is also supposed to encourage the creation of local jobs while repurposing the underutilized buildings.

But the state’s tax credit is 10 percent, and a coalition of architects, economic developers, and others say that’s not enough to encourage the community development they’d like to see. That same group is now traveling the state looking for support as they prepare to ask state lawmakers to increase the tax credit.

Read the whole story at WV Public Broadcasting here.

New D.C. legislation will make it harder — and more expensive — for blighted property to sit vacant

DC Legislation

 

It may soon be more expensive — and more difficult — for a property owner to slowly sit on vacant or blighted property in the District. The D.C. Council will take a final vote Nov. 15 on the Vacant Property Enforcement Act of 2016, which was unanimously approved in its first pass by the council on Nov. 1. The legislation, introduced by Councilwoman Elissa Silverman , I-At large, and co-introduced by nine colleagues, would reduce the maximum amount of time a vacant property can qualify for an exemption from higher vacancy tax rates, close a loophole that allows continuous renewal of construction permits to qualify for tax exemptions and require owners of vacant properties to prove they are no longer subject to the higher tax rates. Read more here!

 

http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2016/11/07/dc-legislation-takes-aim-at-blighted-properties.html

Portland First in Nation to Mandate Deconstruction of Historic Homes

Portland Deconstruction

Effective October 31, any one or two-family home that was built in 1916 or earlier or is a designated historic resource cannot be demolished by the typical bulldozer process, but must be manually deconstructed and salvaged.

In response to the demolition epidemic sweeping across Portland, the City convened a Deconstruction Advisory Group (DAG) to recommend a new policy for managed deconstruction.  The goal was to create an incentive to reuse materials from historic homes and reduce the environmental impact of the tons of waste entering the landfill.  Restore Oregon participated in DAG and played a leading role in the development of the new deconstruction policy. Read more here!

Portland First in Nation to Mandate Deconstruction of Historic Homes

BDC purchases former Follansbee Steel site for future redevelopment

BDC, Follansbee Steel

FOLLANSBEE — The former Follansbee Steel location has been shuttered for four years, but it’s about to get a whole new look.

The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle closed on the property for more than $1.3 million Thursday and have awarded a contract for the brownfield remediation assessment to Civil Environment Consultants of Export, Pa., according to BDC Executive Director Pat Ford.

Ford said the West Virginia Economic Development Authority granted a $1.3 million loan for the purchase and the Northern West Virginia Brownfield Assistance Center awarded a $12,500 grant for a boundary survey and Phase 1 environmental assessment required for the loan. Read more here!

http://www.weirtondailytimes.com/news/local-news/2016/10/bdc-purchases-former-follansbee-steel-site-for-future-redevelopment/

D.C. Tightens Regulations on Vacant Properties

DC Properties

It will soon become harder for landlords to neglect vacant or blighted properties under a bill the D.C. Council unanimously passed today.

The measure—first introduced by At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman and co-sponsored by nine of her colleagues in December—seeks to maintain such buildings at higher property tax rates (5 and 10 percent more than standard for those determined to be vacant and blighted, respectively) until owners affirmatively prove to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs that they’ve abated issues. Current law requires that DCRA verify that buildings are vacant or blighted every six months, even when an owner has not indicated that they’ve made improvements. This has led to inconsistent enforcement of property laws and consumed inspectors’ time. Read more here!

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/news/housing-complex/blog/20839403/dc-tightens-regulations-on-vacant-properties

U.S. Rep. David McKinley Advocates For Increase In Historic Tax Credits During Wheeling Speech

david mckinley

 

WHEELING — Rep. David B. McKinley said Wednesday he’ll work with West Virginia’s next governor to push for expanded historic rehabilitation tax credits, while pressing Congress to follow suit. McKinley, R-W.Va., said these credits incentivize private development, and they advocate for the restoration of dormant downtown districts…He cited several local properties revived because of tax credits, and said these buildings now contribute to the revitalization of Wheeling. “How a community treats its downtown is a manifestation of how it thinks about economic development,” McKinley said. “It hurts me every time I see another building come down because I know they could be restored.” Read more here!

http://www.theintelligencer.net/news/top-headlines/2016/10/mckinley-advoates-for-increase-in%E2%80%88-historic-tax-credits/

Artists Bring Slow, Neighborly Approach to Tackling Blight

Artists in Baltimore (Oct 24)

Tensions may still simmer where neighborhood revitalization and artists and the arts intersect, but when it comes to blight, block by block, creativity is often a good business proposition. Artists as a proven driver of property values were on display in a conversation between two very different ventures at a recent conference in Baltimore. The first of those organizations didn’t start out devoted to the arts, but to Orange, New Jersey. Housing and Neighborhood Development Services, known as Hands, has been rehabilitating and redeveloping properties in Orange since 1986. In the two decades prior, Orange had first been gutted by an interstate project and then bled dry by the closure of the Rheingold brewery, which led to the loss of 700 jobs. One in 10 houses was vacant, over 400 overall. Read more here!

https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/artists-gentrification-blight-vacancies-indianapolis