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.

New WV State Law Gives More Tools for Dealing with Dilapidated, Abandoned Properties

Gazette-Mail file photo
Cities will now have more tools to deal with dilapidated houses, like this one photographed on Charleston’s West Side in 2015.

A law allowing municipalities to take new measures against owners of dilapidated, abandoned properties has gone into effect.

The law allows code enforcement agencies to obtain search warrants from a municipal judge to determine the status of a structure. If granted, the agency can inspect the property to see if it is truly dilapidated, Charleston City Attorney Paul Ellis said.

If there are significant issues with the structure, municipalities can then demolish those that are serious public safety hazards. Previously, municipalities had to get either written consent from the building’s owner, or the municipality could get an order in circuit court.

Read the full story from the Charleston Gazette-Mail here.

Bluefield is Taking Action to Enhance Downtown

By James McDowell, Multimedia Journalist

During an economic downturn, the first casualty are small, locally owned businesses. Not only does it hurt the local economy, but often leaves the city’s landscape just as scarred. However, Bluefield, West Virginia, is now doing something about it.

Jim Spencer, Bluefield’s Director of Economic Development, has begun an initiative to spruce up the storefronts along Bland and Federal streets. He says the reasons for the project are threefold. “We started using the windows to market Bluefield, tell the history of Bluefield, and actually do some cleanup. We’re starting with our own properties. This is an initiative that came from our Cool and Connected grant program we were working on, which is focusing on downtown development.”

Read the full story from WVVA here

Kanawha Commission Approves $1 Million House Demolition Project

This spring and summer, Kanawha County officials hope to demolish dozens of dilapidated houses throughout the county. At its regular meeting Thursday, the Kanawha County Commission approved using $1 million on a demolition program to raze up to 114 houses.

The county uses 100 percent of its building permit fees for the demolition of dilapidated structures, county Planning Director Steve Neddo said. The county currently has more than $375,000 in building fees on hand, which it will leverage with an interest-free loan from the West Virginia Housing Development Fund. Altogether, the county plans to spend around $1 million to demolish the structures.

Read the full story from the Charleston Gazette-Mail here.

Register for Intensive Historic Real Estate Development Course in Fairmont

Through a generous sponsorship from BB&T, Preservation Alliance of West Virginia and National Trust for Historic Preservation have organized for the National Development Council to bring the first of its two-part Historic Real Estate Finance Professional Certification series to Fairmont – May 8 – 12, 2017.

This five-day intensive course offers a step-by-step look at the real estate development process from the perspective of lenders, developers and investors.

West Virginian’s have priority registration until March 27th, so register soon! Registration for this 5 day course is $250, a mere fraction of the regular price.

Check out the full information on this course at PAWV’s website by clicking here.

A Community Thrives: New Social Impact Grant Program

A Community Thrives is a new approach to social impact programs that was developed through a collaboration across the entire USA TODAY NETWORK. While most initiatives designate funds or give support to great charities, we’re going to instead fund and support great ideas. The volunteering begins with you pitching your creative solutions to solving our communities’ most critical needs.

We are very encouraged by the participation in ACT and the ideas many of you submitted. This is our first year and we would love to have more participation. We want to allow enough time for the word to spread about ACT and to have a pool of submissions for each category. So we’re extending the Entry Period to March 31st and the Voting Period will run beginning April 12th and ending May 12th.

Learn more about this funding opportunity here.

Making BAD Buildings Good Again: West Virginia communities display best efforts to tackle dilapidated building issues

Photo Credit: Kailee Gallahan (The Exponent Telegram)

Though West Virginia is known for its peaceful and serene country scenery, nestled in several of its mountains are communities fighting blighted and dilapidated structures that significantly damage that pristine image.

“Honestly, it’s been an issue for a long time,” said Luke Elser, project manager of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University. “In West Virginia, it feels like a lot of communities and the citizens themselves have begun to address this by saying, ‘This problem needs to be solved, and we need to solve it as a community.’”

Read the full article at The Exponent Telegram.

EDITORIAL: Cities Face Complex Issues in Rehabilitating Structures

Photo Credit: Brittany Murry (The Exponent Telegram)

Editorial from The Exponent Telegram: While our state lawmakers continue to meet in Charleston each day to discuss answers to the dire question of how to fill the gaping budget gap, our mayors and community leaders wake up each morning, look out their windows and wonder how to make their neighborhoods a little better.

Read the full article at The Exponent Telegram.