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Articles in the Real Estate Category

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[10 Nov 2014 | No Comment | ]
Confronting Urban Population Decline

The fact that many American cities are experiencing significant population decline is old news. This trend has been occurring since 1950, particularly in the older cities that were once part of the “Great American Manufacturing Belt” that stretched across the northern tier of the country from New England to just west of the Mississippi River.

What is not old news, however, is that many of these same cities are now experiencing serious problems with vacant and abandoned properties.

These problems are relatively new in many places, and unlike population loss per se, the loss of taxpaying households poses an existential threat to the fiscal healthof these cities.

Architecture, Economic Development, Editorial, Featured, Good Ideas, Real Estate, The Environment, Urban Planning »

[13 Dec 2013 | No Comment | ]
Does your community suffer from power pole blight?

I don’t know about your community, but here in Greater Lansing there seems to be an intense love affair between public utilities and power poles. “Holy pincushions, Batman, you’d think they’d all been raised by a family of porcupine.”
In some places, the primary roadway corridors look like a long, linear parade of power pole blight.  Sadly, all too often this leaves communities in the region with disjointed and unpleasant streetscape aesthetics to overcome. I know Greater lansing is not alone, as I have seen power pole blight across many parts …

Economic Development, Featured, Good Ideas, Real Estate, The Environment »

[5 Sep 2013 | One Comment | ]
On the Waterfront: The Possible Future of Youngstown’s Riverfront

For many legacy cities in the former Industrial Heartland of America, waterfronts were never much more than alien spaces. Cargo shipping, steel mills, chemical companies, and other industrial concerns ruled rivers and lakefronts. Manufacturing enterprises even rendered waterways into toxic dumping grounds in the decades before the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Water Act. This is especially true of the former steel city of Youngstown, Ohio.

For most of the twentieth century, miles of massive steel mills covered both banks of the Mahoning River, which snakes through the city of Youngstown.

Architecture, Crime, Economic Development, Featured, Great Lakes, Politics, Public Transportation, Race Relations, Real Estate, Sports, Sprawl, The Media, U.S. Auto Industry, Urban Planning, Urban Poverty »

[5 Aug 2013 | No Comment | ]
Shared Responsibility for Detroit’s Woes

As a Michigander for the past 21 years, I’ve heard my share of Detroit criticisms, jokes, and put downs, both from within and outside the Great Lakes State. While fingers can be  pointed at the lack of past civic and political leadership in Detroit, our collective actions (or lack thereof) can certainly share in the responsibility. Some may scoff at such a notion, but here’re a few reasons why:

As a nation we elected leaders who adopted a tax code and laws that advocated, promoted, and accelerated flight from cities and …

Featured, Real Estate »

[17 Jun 2013 | No Comment | ]
Questioning Cleveland’s Undying Faith in Development

Cleveland is a real estate town, someone once told me. We’re home to Forest City Enterprises, Developers Diversified. Real estate development is part of the culture here and often seen as the highest form of economic development, probably just sort of by default, without thinking about it.

We’re just emerging from the biggest real estate bust in a generation, but the lust for development doesn’t seem to have abated. Economic development officials have taken to touting how downtown Cleveland, or Cleveland, is currently seeing $5 ($7 $12?) billion — as if that were indisputable evidence the city is rebounding.

Featured, Politics, Real Estate »

[4 Jun 2013 | No Comment | ]
Cleveland’s “Opportunity Corridor” Fiasco in Memes

Cleveland is preparing to build a $350 million highway through some of its poorest neighborhoods. This pet project of some of the region’s elites has been cynically named “the Opportunity Corridor.” Local writer Mansfield Frazier helpfully explains the “opportunity” part: it gives “white folks an opportunity to drive to the Cleveland Clinic without seeing any black folks.”
This project stinks. At more than $100 million per mile, it’s an extravagant highway project in a state that’s out of money. It’s going to result in the destruction of 90 homes and more …

Architecture, Art, Economic Development, Featured, Good Ideas, Public Transportation, Real Estate, The Environment, Urban Farming, Urban Planning »

[20 May 2013 | No Comment | ]
Repurposing “streets with no name”

In a number of cities, there are certain derelict streets that are nearly denuded of dwellings or businesses. Desolate and forlorn, these streets resemble something out of a post war apocalypse. Detroit may be the poster child du jour of such stark and sad emptiness, but there are many other examples across the Rust Belt and elsewhere. What to do with neglected streets has long been a source of planning discussion and conjecture.  In some instances entire abandoned neighborhoods have or are being converted to urban agriculture or community gardens.  …

Architecture, Economic Development, Editorial, Featured, Headline, Politics, Real Estate, The Media, Urban Planning »

[9 May 2013 | No Comment | ]
Gaming the Economic Development System

Once again, it appears that “build it and celebrate it” no matter the past sins (or future consequences) reigns supreme among economic developers. While hyping an announcement of more jobs and new construction in Greater Lansing, the fact that the insurance company in question challenged its property taxes using the “functionally obsolete building” scheme in 2010 was conveniently overlooked (see article in City Pulse).

Source: freep.com

If you are not familiar with the “functionally obsolete” tax game that is being employed most often by big box retailers, the claim that is made is …

Brain Drain, Economic Development, Editorial, Great Lakes, Headline, Politics, Real Estate, The Environment, U.S. Auto Industry, Urban Planning »

[24 Apr 2013 | No Comment | ]
Economic development soul-searching

The title of this post may be a bit controversial, but can also be sadly true. Far too often, it seems a blind eye is turned toward the sins of the past just to generate new economic investment. A perfect example is portrayed in the past week’s (April 17th edition) of City Pulse by an article entitled “A Tax Break Won’t Change This.” While tax breaks are being offered to GM for additional investment in Greater Lansing, a ginormous vacant parking lot blights the near south side of the city, not to mention additional deteriorated sites along Saginaw Highway on the west side of town.

Featured, Real Estate »

[11 Mar 2013 | No Comment | ]
Historic Preservation Programs in Ohio: Worth Preserving

The mansard roof and red brick over white stone façade of the building at 380 East Town Street is a solid, if not somewhat subdued, example of the Second Empire style that was popular in mid to late nineteenth century American architecture. The building, constructed in 1890 by retail titan Fred Lazarus, Sr., has stood alternatively as a grand residence, an office space, a surgeon’s suite, and a boarding house. Most recently it has stood empty, unable to find a buyer willing to take on a historic property in a Columbus neighborhood that does not currently know what to make of itself. This particular section of downtown Columbus has not seen the runaway popularity (and thus runaway property values) that has been seen in some of the surrounding districts. And so the property sat on the market for five years, vacant for the last 12 months. Being situated next to a surface parking lot the owners of the Lazarus House recently became concerned that if they were to lower the price of the property much further, it would be scooped up by the parking lot owner and leveled.