Dear Artists: Detroit’s Abandoned Homes Are More Than Your Blank Canvas

White House

“The White House,” by Ryan Mendoza, was on view at the Art Rotterdam festival in the Netherlands in February. Mendoza removed the facade of an abandoned house in Detroit for his installation, prompting criticism about how it affected the neighborhood it came from.

The Monday demolition of a blighted Detroit home made famous in an art installation thousands of miles away raises questions about the relationship between artists and the communities that inspire their work.

Ryan Mendoza, an American-born artist living in Europe, used the house on Stoepel Street as the raw material for “The White House” at the Art Rotterdam festival last month. He first visited Detroit last year, removed the facade of the house, which was purchased and donated by a local friend, and shipped it overseas. In the Netherlands city, he reconstructed the shell and painted it white. He played Motown hits and projected family snapshots and video taken during his trip to evoke the house’s history. Read More here!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ryan-mendoza-detroit-white-house_us_56fbb88be4b083f5c6060d31

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

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

Zombie Wars: State law aims to reduce blighted properties

Ohio vacant properties

A new state law is being viewed as a national model for eliminating zombies. Zombie properties, that is. A law taking effect Wednesday will speed up the process for foreclosing on vacant and abandoned properties – homes and other structures given their nickname for being left to languish like the living dead. The legislative solution, which was three years in the making, cleared the state Senate and House and was signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich in June. It establishes a fast-track system that trims the foreclosure process from two years or more to as little as six months.

Backers say the speedier foreclosure procedure, tucked into a bill exempting certain natural gas sales from the state sales tax, also protects property owners’ rights by requiring at least three of 11 listed factors to be present before foreclosure can begin. Read more here!

http://www.wtol.com/story/33271065/zombie-wars-state-law-aims-to-reduce-blighted-properties