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.

Revitalizing Downtown Huntington Through Local Foods

Photo by The Wild Ramp

Back in 2012, the Wild Ramp was just a good idea: “why can’t there be a local market in the Huntington area where people can buy locally-produced food and crafts?”

Five years later and the Wild Ramp, on 14th Street in West Huntington, is a key driver of the region’s food and farm economy, representing 158 local producers and moving closer each year to almost $400,000 in annual sales. Since it opened in July of 2012, the Wild Ramp has returned more than $1.2 million to local producers.

Find out how they accomplished this by reading the full story 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.

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/

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/

Children’s artwork shines in downtown Richmond

children's artwork

“This is our first year showcasing children’s art,” said Alicia Gallo, community outreach coordinator for Richmond Main Street. “The community suggested we put children’s art in the windows, and we love the energy.”

The exhibition was the product of a partnership between Richmond Main Street’s annual Art In Windows program and the Love Your Block program. Art In Windows, funded by the Richmond Main Street Initiative and supported in kind by the Richmond Arts and Culture Commission, aims to beautify downtown Richmond by turning empty storefront windows into gallery space for two exhibits each year. Love Your Block, a neighborhood revitalization program, gives grants to citizens who want to improve Richmond neighborhoods through community-led projects. Read more here!

Children’s artwork shines in downtown Richmond

 

Popping Up In A Vacant Lot Near You: Community Engagement And Neighborhood Revitalization

life-size jenga

 

In some Pennsylvania cities, it seems like “pop-ups,” where vacant land is temporarily converted into community space, are around every corner. In Pittsburgh, you can play life-size chess and mega Jenga in an unused office park, or sit in a tiny dumpster park. A lot underneath Philadelphia’s abandoned Reading Viaduct has found new life as a summer beer garden. You’d be hard pressed to find a city in the commonwealth that hasn’t experimented with at least pocket parks, large enough for one or two passerby. The short-term, low-cost aspect of these parks allows cities to give different groups a space to try out their ideas without much risk. Read more here!

 

http://wskgnews.org/post/popping-vacant-lot-near-you-community-engagement-and-neighborhood-revitalization#stream/0

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

Must See: Art Project Brings New Life Into Blighted Buildings

 

breathing lights project

Breathing Lights, the name of the project, is the brainchild of artist Adam Frelin and architect Barb Nelson. Both were awarded with a $1 million grant to generate public art to address local issues. Smithsonian says that the “light” part of the project’s name is simple to understand – hundreds of buildings in the three cities will lit up from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thus, the “breathing” part is just as relevant.

“Warm light will fill each window with a diffuse glow that mimics the gentle rhythm of human breathing,” the artists posted on their website. This is used to describe what is lost when buildings become vacant and the cities’ ability to breathe new life back into abandoned urban areas. Read more here!

http://www.travelerstoday.com/articles/23494/20161006/art-project-brings-new-life-blighted-buildings.htm

Clarksburg Council Awards Bid for City Demolition Project

Clarksburg City Council

A motion made during Thursday’s Clarksburg City Council meeting to award a project bid to Reclaim Co. of Fairmont will help rid the city of blighted properties. Six structures will be razed in the demolition and asbestos abatement project, all located within the city’s tax increment financing (TIF) district. The city received three bids for the project, which were opened Tuesday, and Reclaim Co. submitted the lowest bid at $89,998.

“This demolition property will continue our goal to eliminate a lot of the slum and blight,” City Manager Martin Howe said. “All of these structures that will be taken down, a majority of them have entered into agreements with the property owners to have them razed. For the overall improvement of the city, it’s a great program to continue.” Read more here!

http://www.theet.com/news/local/clarksburg-council-awards-bid-for-city-demolition-project/article_84c0e4c9-2b60-502e-9b08-a0ab4c0c72dd.html