Support redevelopment of vacant and abandoned properties


States should support the redevelopment of vacant and abandoned properties by removing barriers that hinder redevelopment efforts and by assisting local redevelopment authorities.

Abandoned buildings often prevent or hinder comprehensive urban redevelopment by depressing property values, reducing tax revenues, and discouraging development. In addition, redeveloping vacant properties rather than building on "greenfields" can prevent the loss of open space and is more fiscally responsible. In the typical large city, vacant and abandoned properties occupy more than 12,000 acres, or over 15 percent of the typical city area.

This is usable land already connected to urban infrastructure and services. For metropolitan areas looking to accommodate growth without consuming the surrounding countryside, such properties amount to a vast reservoir of land for well-planned development. To take advantage of the resource, local governments must take control of neglected properties, prioritize reclamation opportunities, and utilize technology to document and redevelop vacant properties.


States can support redevelopment efforts by removing barriers that hinder the revival of vacant properties, including state laws that govern land assembly, foreclosure and eminent domain. States can conduct statewide or citywide inventories of vacant properties and provide more targeted technical and financial assistance to local redevelopment authorities.

Downtown business associations can be instrumental in providing the assistance and contacts necessary to review tax rolls, coordinate with the tax assessor's office, and identify lots and buildings that have the greatest potential for redevelopment. States can also reform eminent domain laws and require all redevelopment authorities to automatically acquire property in distressed neighborhoods.


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