Detroit Vacant Lots Become Stormwater Gardens

Four vacant lots on Detroit’s west side have been given new life as stormwater retention gardens, each capable of corralling up to 300,000 gallons of water below ground per year while creating a beautiful common space for neighbors up above.

Initiated by an interdisciplinary team of University of Michigan students, the project represents a few significant firsts: the first green stormwater infrastructure project to receive investment from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD); the first time that department and the Detroit Land Bank Authority have collaborated. And with their massive capacity and appealing design, the stakeholders are also hoping to prove just how much green infrastructure can do. Click here for the full story.

Blight into Beauty One Chain Link Fence at a Time

The mayor of Imperial Beach, California has made it his mission to clean up neighborhoods by tearing down one rusty chain-link fence at a time. He is partnering with nonprofit organizations, such as one that uses sustainable construction techniques to create affordable homes, community centers, creative gathering spaces and other structures out of trash and recyclables, to develop abandoned sites into useful gathering places for the community. Click here for the full story.

Building a Big Dream on a Tiny Slip of Land

Three years ago, the Cuyahoga Land Bank in Ohio took over a tiny abandoned house on a 35- by 95-foot parcel in Lakewood’s Scenic Park neighborhood.

As the Land Bank razed the 348-square-foot house, cleared the property and laid grass seed, LakewoodAlive, a community-centered non-profit organization focused on maintaining vibrant neighborhoods in Lakewood, took notice. The parcel became part of a beautiful new 2-story home. Click here for the full story.

Paducah, Kentucky Attracts Artists to Rehab Homes

Artists from all over America started coming in 2000 to buy and restore homes in Lowertown, Paducah, Kentucky’s oldest — and most blighted – neighborhood. The neighborhood is now home to more than 70 artists, thanks to the city’s artist relocation program which was made possible with the help of a locally owned bank that willing to take a chance on this untested idea. Click here for the full story.

“Artists are the kind of folks who see what can be,” Barnett said. “They see potential, and we knew that was what it was going to take when they came in to see the neighborhood in its current condition.”

Tiny Houses Built on Vacant Property Serve Homeless Veterans

In Kansas City, MO, military veterans started a program to build tiny houses on vacant land for struggling and homeless veterans. They formed a nonprofit organization and acquired the property from the Kansas City Land Bank. To build and equip each house costs an estimated $10,000.

“The good news is veteran homelessness is declining thanks to programs like this one.”

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Kingwood Receives WVDEP ‘Land Revitalization’ Award

In May, the City of Kingwood received the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Land Revitalization award for their robust recycling program. When the program was initiated, operations were constricted to the City Sanitary Sewer bed area. Program participation quickly increased, and operations outgrew the existing space. City leaders recognized a local abandoned warehouse to purchase as a dedicated recycling program building.

The Penmarva building, which previously housed a grocery wholesale company, was dilapidated and had been neglected since 2007. But the size and location made it ideal for recycling operations.

The new Kingwood Recycling Center, which is more accessible and customer friendly, opened for business in February 2016. Congratulations to the city of Kingwood! Click here for more information.

Vacant Home Tours Showcase Property Potential

Wilkinsburg, PA, a community just outside Pittsburgh, is attempting to address blight by creating a tour of vacant homes to increase their appeal by explaining their history, suggesting potential reuses, and offering workshops about vacant property acquisition and property rehabilitation.

“We get a lot of complaints from residents…they want to know how they could go about acquiring the vacant home next door, or if it can be demolished, or what is available for people to deal with vacancy and blight in their neighborhood,” said Marlee Gallagher, co-coordinator of the tour.

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New Cumberland Eyesores To Be Redeveloped

New Cumberland, WV city officials recently presented a redevelopment plan that would impact the entire city. The plan included demolition of two buildings that have been vacant for more than 20 years. The buildings are located in the heart of the small downtown area, adjacent to the Graham/Staley Building, a key historic structure in the town’s most prominent intersection.

Community members recently participated in a visioning event where they brainstormed reuse plans on base maps of the area. Attendees decided to formalize as the River RATs (Redevelopment Action Team), and plan a follow-up meeting later in May.

“This is a combination of a lot of teamwork and hard work to start building a vision. We can start to dream tonight,” Mayor McNeil said.

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Inspiration: Urban Art Initiative to Raise Awareness by Illuminating Vacant Buildings

A regional public art installation meant to raise awareness of urban blight is in the works in New York state.

The project, called Breathing Lights, will illuminate hundreds of vacant buildings in Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York nightly in October and November 2016 – aiming to shed light on the issues and regenerate interest in city neighborhoods that currently have high vacancy rates.

The idea for this project, conceptualized by a local artist and architect, was supported by an up to $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies through its Public Art Challenge initiative.

Click here for the full story.