To Tackle Blight, Kansas City Will Crunch The Numbers

Tackling blight is expensive. Kansas City, Kansas, is betting that data can reverse decades of urban decay. The Unified Government hopes to address decades of neglect with money from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative. The idea is to connect smaller municipalities with data tools that can help them govern better. The advantage to partnering with Bloomberg is Kansas City, Kansas, won’t have to develop its own infrastructure to fight the problem. It can borrow from what partner cities have learned. Click here for the full story.

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.

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.”

Click here for the full story.

Upcoming Local WV Community Events: Thomas

Thomas Spring Clean-up and Trail Maintenance
Saturday, April 30th, 10 a.m. 

Join New Historic Thomas for some spring cleaning in Thomas! Meet at the lower lot of City Hall on Saturday, April 30th at 10 a.m. Groups will be organized to clean up trash, work on the Thomas Trails, and finish other Spring beautification activities around town. Please bring gloves, water, and sunscreen. Join us afterwards for a community lunch gathering.

Thomas Community Clean-Up Flyer

Developing Your Digital Gallery: Training in Digital Marketing and Social Media for Artist Entrepreneurs.
May 7th – 11a.m.-4 p.m.

Sponsored by the Mountain Arts District. Buxton & Landstreet Building in Thomas. $15

Mountain Arts District flyer

Grant Opportunities: Lowe’s and Try This WV

Getting a community project off the ground? Check out these two grant opportunities:

Lowe’s Community Partners Grants
The Lowe’s Community Partners grant program helps build better communities by providing monetary assistance to nonprofit organizations and municipalities looking for support of high-need projects such as: building renovations/upgrades, grounds improvements, technology upgrades as well as safety improvements. Grants range from $2,001 to $100,000, with most projects falling between $10,000 and $25,000. The Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteer program is another opportunity for support, which Lowe’s can provide to some grant recipients to help supplement the labor of projects. Applicants — speak to your local store manager to see if this is a possibility before applying.

The Community Partners 2016 cycle dates are:
Spring: March 21, 2016 – May 23, 2016
Fall: July 1, 2016 – August 26, 2016

You can only apply for a grant during the cycle dates. During this time the application will become available. Click here to apply. Here are the giving guidelines, and Lowe’s also offers an FAQ.

Try This Minigrant
The Try This Minigrant program awards $3,000 minigrants to projects that help people build healthy habits. Consider applying if you have a project that includes recreational or health components. The process is a bit different than most, in that you have to send a team to the Try This Conference in June, where you’ll compete for funding. For more information click here

Property Rescue Workshop in Buckhannon this Friday!

The Property Rescue Initiative (PRI) is a program of the West Virginia Housing Development Fund (WVHDF) that provides $1 million in loan funding for communities to remove or rehabilitate dilapidated buildings.

This Friday, April 1, Buckhannon will host the final installment of a series of PRI workshops in 2016 that will help interested parties access PRI funding and provide technical assistance for locals to address abandoned buildings in their communities. Register now as space is limited.

Anyone interested in accessing a portion of the PRI funding pool to address dilapidated buildings in their community is encouraged to attend.

The full day workshop will feature guest speakers, interactive sessions on stakeholder engagement and the BAD Buildings process, and a panel of experts who will discuss creative ways to repay loans and reuse problem properties. Registration is $15.

Have You Explored Our Tools Section Lately?

Need to contact a property owner about a problem property and not sure where to start? Looking to demolish or deconstruction a property? What about starting a beautification program? Browse the many tools on this website based on your project type, including:

  • Mobilize community and develop inventory
  • Reuse a property
  • Prevent blight
  • Develop a beautification program
  • Analyze maps and data
  • Build your partnership network

Or, click here to find a full list of the tools offered through

Connect with Communities Facing Similar Challenges through the Redevelopment Expert Exchange

Do you have a have a redevelopment success story to share with a fellow West Virginia community? Or, are you looking for a similar community to share lessons learned?

The Redevelopment Expert Exchange (RE2) facilitates redevelopment experience-sharing between West Virginia communities. The program matches redevelopment leaders from across the state with communities facing similar opportunities and challenges, allowing them to learn from the best practices and experiences of their peers across the state. RE2 is also offering a series of webinars throughout 2016 — we will keep you posted once they are announced.

Here are some example topics communities have exchanged:

  • Attracting developers
  • Engaging the media
  • Creating urban redevelopment authorities (URAs)
  • Establishing land reuse agencies
  • Structuring public-private partnerships


Read this success story about Wheeling’s successful Vacant Property Registration which they presented to Fairmont through an exchange facilitated by RE2.

re_2_logo_FINALTo learn more about how the WV Redevelopment Expert Exchange works or to request a match in your community, click here.


RE2 is a program of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center.