Philadelphia is setting up a citywide land bank that could become a model for other big cities, The New York Timesreports. The city has 40,000 vacant or abandoned properties, the result of foreclosures, tax delinquencies, deindustrialization, and the like. They are controlled by four city agencies in a Byzantine bureaucratic system that often discourages reuse, the Times reports. The new land bank will set up rules that encourages sale of properties to private developers and landlords that immediate clean up and reuse sites, rather than hold them as investments. “If Philadelphia moves forward with this, it will be a very good model for Detroit,” which has an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 vacant properties, said Frank Alexander, a professor of real estate law at Emory University. Baltimore recently announced new efforts to deal with abandoned properties, the Baltimore Sunreports. “Over the next 21/2 years, the city is budgeted to spend nearly $22 million to tear down 1,500 abandoned houses — a move urban planners say could transform Baltimore visually and clear a path for struggling neighborhoods to attract future development. Previously, the city had been spending about $2.5 million a year on demolition.”
“Flyovers are rarely constructed where there is economic wealth and development, and they tend to cause blight and have a chilling effect on economic development and property values,” says Richard Birdoff.
“Mobile is a wonderful city: It’s smaller and more damaged than New Orleans, but absolutely taking off and full of young people,” planner Andres Duany told Better! Cities & Towns, which published a report in the current issue. Duany Plater-Zyberk did a plan for revitalization of 200 blocks downtown and adjacent neighborhoods in the Alabama city. About half of downtown’s urban fabric has been demolished over the years — so redevelopment sites are abundant, he notes. The Alabama Department of Transportation has budgeted the removal of a massive cloverleaf feeding I-10 on the southern edge of downtown, which will open up a new development district envisioned by planners. The plan also calls for a miniature version of the “High Line” — an elevated park that pops over a surface highway — to connect downtown to an underused waterfront. Mobile peaked in population in 1960 and has dropped by less than 10,000 since — and the city is poised for a new round of growth now that Airbus plans to start construction this year of an aircraft factory 2.5 miles from downtown.