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

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

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

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

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

Zombie Homes Eat Millions in Property Values

Zombie properties along with bank and federally-owned foreclosed homes may have decreased property values by as much as $11 million in Monroe County and the city of Rochester, New York according to a new report released by the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference.

Poorly maintained zombie homes “are having a real impact on people who have had nothing to do with the foreclosure crisis,” said Klein. “These people are still being affected by these dilapidated properties.” Click here for the full story.

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.