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Session Topics, Descriptions, and Presentations

Below, the Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference sessions are sorted by general topic area to help you find the sessions that will be most helpful for you. Each session title links to its description, or click here to scroll through all the session descriptions. You can find a complete list of all session speakers with their bios here.

 

Looking for speakers' PowerPoint presentations? 

 If so, scroll down to the session descriptions. If a PowerPoint is available for you to download, you'll see an orange "Presentation" link after that speaker's name. If there are no links for a session or an individual speaker, then the presentation is not available.

 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Topics

11:30 AM - 2:00 PM

2:30 PM - 5:00 PM  

Land Banking
 

East Side Rising: Preservation and Restoration in East English Village and MorningSide

Land Banking 101: Everything You Wanted to Learn About Land Banking


Code Enforcement and Demolition

Encouraging Responsible Landlords: The Role of Rental Housing Regulation

 
Using Market Driven Decision-Making for Strategic Code Enforcement Success

Tax/Mortgage Foreclosure



 

Understanding Neighborhoods

Neighborhood Markets: Shaping Neighborhood Change Strategy

Demystifying Data: Understanding Neighborhood Indicators

Using Market Driven Decision-Making for ...

Maximizing Impact: Creating a Blight  ...

Why Bad Things Happen to Good  ...


Arts and Placemaking


Community-Driven Art for Community-Driven Revitalization

 

Green Infra., Reuse, Urban Ag

 

Spring Greening: Green Reuse on Detroit’s East Side

Motorless Motor City: Detroit's Riverfront ...

Blight to Broccoli: Urban Agriculture ...

Brighter Days for Brightmoor ...

Residential Rehab
 

 

Meet the Motor City

Southwest Detroit: Block-by-Block Transformation Through Collaboration

Equity, Fairness, and Engagement

New Neighbors, Stronger Neighborhoods: Serving Immigrant Families and Revitalizing Detroit

Social and Racial Equity in Urban Revitalization: Looking at the Past to Inform the Present

 

Non-Residential Rehab

Downtown Motown: The Way You Do the Things You Do

SouthWest Detroit: Block-by-Block Transformation Through Collaboration

- Brighter Days for Brightmoor: A Grassroots Movement to Reclaim a Neighborhood

 

...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Topics

10:45 AM - 12:15 PM

2:00 PM - 3:30 PM 

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM 

Land Banking
 

 

A Sunny Disposition: Effective Methods for Returning Property to Productive Use

Vacant Properties and Civil Rights: Implementing Strategies That Are Fair to All


 

Code Enforcement and Demolition

Double-Time Demos: Implementing Large Scale Demolition 



 

Funding and Beyond: Building a Code Enforcement Budget

Vacant Properties and Civil Rights: Implementing Strategies That Are Fair to All 

- Code Red: Using Nuisance Abatement to ...

 

Tax/Mortgage Foreclosure


Ain’t No Mountain High Enough:  Efficient, Effective, and Equitable Tax Foreclosure Reform

Signed, Sealed Delivered? Property Tax Lien Sales and Municipal and Neighborhood Stabilization

 

Understanding Neighborhoods

Using Data to Manage Progress and Measure success: Chicago's Micro Market Recovery

 

 

 A Collaborative, Place-Based Approach to Federal Revitalization Efforts
Arts and Placemaking



Creative Placemaking: Strengthening the Fabric of Community While Combating Vacancy

Revitalization With Roots; Best Practices in Legacy City Historic Preservation

Green Infra., Reuse, Urban Ag

 

Understanding Landscapes: New Tools for Fighting Urban Vacancy

 

Lots of Possibility: Inspiring Public Participation through Vacant Lot Competitions

Residential Rehab
 

Public Safety and Property Revitalization: Partnerships for Success

Renewing Communities through Collaboration: New Jersey’s Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Success

 

Equity, Fairness, and Engagement

 

 

 

- People Power: Moving Beyond Resident ...

- Lots of Possibility: Inspiring Public ...

Non-Residential Rehab

Public Safety and Property Revitalization: Partnerships ...

Rebuilding Neighborhood Markets: Strategies for ...

 

Renewing Communities through Collaboration: New Jersey’s Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Success 


- People Power: Moving Beyond Resident ...

- When the Students Are Gone: Repurposing ...

 

 

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

 Topics

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM 

Land Banking
 

Forty More Years: What Lies Ahead for the Land Bank Movement


Code Enforcement and Demolition

Safe Demolitions At Any Speed: Recent Public Health Improvements to Residential Demolition in Detroit


Tax/Mortgage Foreclosure



Left Behind: Combating Zombie Properties

Understanding Neighborhoods

Understand Your Community Through Data: Property Parcel Surveys in Three Communities

The Way Forward: Strong Public-Private Partnerships for Weak Markets


Arts and Placemaking



Conversations in Place, Arts, and Public Life

Green Infra., Reuse, Urban Ag

 

Neighborhood-scale Green Infrastructure in Three Great Lakes Cities

Open Space Land Advocacy: Adaptive Approaches to Working with Local Government

Residential Rehab
 

Working Better, Together: A New Approach to CDC and Local Government Partnerships

This Old House: Rehab Financing for Abandoned Properties

- Partnership Models for Inner Ring Revitalization

Equity, Fairness, and Engagement

 

Conversations in Place, Arts, and Public Life

 

Non-Residential Rehab

Opportunity Sites: Transforming Vacant Industrial Property into Citywide Assets


 

...

Session Descriptions


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

11:30 AM - 2:00 PM

Mobile Workshops

 

Spring Greening: Green Reuse on Detroit’s East Side 

In Detroit, twenty square miles of occupiable land sits vacant, while the city’s population continues to decline. As a result, the Detroit Future City Strategic Framework calls for green landscapes in parts of the city, contributing to a healthier, more sustainable urban environment. On the east side, which hosts some of the city’s highest vacancy neighborhoods, creative local nonprofits are hard at work pioneering large-scale green reuse projects. This workshop will expose participants to the work of two organizations: Lower East Action Plan (LEAP) and The Greening of Detroit. With LEAP, participants will experience two examples of recently installed green infrastructure improvements and develop an understanding of LEAP’s community-driven planning process and how it translates into on-the-ground success. Leaders from The Greening will introduce participants to dendroremediation sites and the organization’s related workforce development program. Participants will experience Detroit’s vacant land context firsthand while learning lessons that can be applied at home, from possible reuse options, to greening’s impact on property values, to ensuring residents benefit directly from green infrastructure projects. 

Speakers: Jackie Bejma, Land, Inc.; Dean Hay, The Greening of Detroit; Erin Kelly, Detroit Future City; Wade Rose, The Greening of Detroit. Back to the top

 

New Neighbors, Stronger Neighborhoods: Serving Immigrant Families and Revitalizing Detroit 

In Legacy Cities, which have faced years of population loss, immigrants have played a major role in stabilizing and revitalizing urban neighborhoods. Recognizing this role, cities and nonprofit organizations—such as the City of Detroit, Bridging Communities, ProsperUS Detroit and several other entities—are increasingly developing revitalization programs that target the needs of immigrant families. These programs include, for example, micro-enterprise development and assistance purchasing and rehabbing vacant tax-foreclosed homes. This mobile workshop will visit thriving commercial retail districts that immigrant communities have revitalized in Banglatown and Southwest Detroit, as well as the revitalization of single-family residential properties in the neighborhoods adjoining these commercial strips. Participants will learn strategies for jointly meeting the needs of immigrant families and reclaiming a community’s vacant properties. 

Speaker: Ehsan Taqbeem, MQRG, LLC and Bangladeshi American Political Action Committee; Steve Tobocman, Global Detroit; Kathy Wendler, Southwest Detroit Business Association. Back to the top

 

Community-Driven Art for Community-Driven Revitalization

Community-driven art can activate underutilized urban spaces unlike anything else, and often in the unlikeliest places. It can create a valuable asset out of what had been a liability, while remaining true to the neighborhood’s roots, culture, and residents. In this mobile workshop, participants will visit Southwest Detroit, known for its vibrant ethnic and immigrant population, to see community-driven art firsthand in the urban context. The first stop will be 555 Gallery, a nonprofit, cooperatively run art center that provides studios and workspace, gallery space, exhibition programs, and arts education programs. The 555 Gallery, housed in a revitalized abandoned police precinct, is focused on strengthening Detroit through the arts. From there, participants will visit The Alley Project (TAP), an exterior graffiti exhibition and training space occupying a garage, two adjacent vacant lots, and an alley in Southwest Detroit. An initiative of Young Nation, a community-based youth group, TAP is focused on encouraging creative expression, positive youth-adult partnership, and community responsibility and is a truly unique example of community-driven vacant land reuse. 

Speakers: Erik Howard, The Alley Project; Dan Pitera, Detroit Collaborative Design Center. Back to the top

 

East Side Rising: Preservation and Restoration in East English Village and MorningSide

Detroit’s East English Village and MorningSide neighborhoods have long histories as two of the most stable, aesthetically pleasing, and civically engaged communities on the east side – but they took a big hit during the recent mortgage crisis and recession. Recovery, however, is underway, and in this mobile workshop, participants will witness it firsthand. In recent months, the Detroit Land Bank, working with city, state, and federal government, has made substantial investments through strategic blight removal, nuisance abatement suits, and housing auctions. The private sector, along with nonprofit organizations, have been working to restore homes and spur investment. Participants will visit land bank properties and other sites of reinvestment, learning how the work of the Detroit Land Bank, East English Village Neighborhood Association, MorningSide Community Association, Habitat for Humanity, and other partners are knitting together to restore the fabric of these two anchor neighborhoods. 

Speakers: William Barlage, East English Village Association; Jackie Grant, MorningSide Community Association; Rodney Liggons, Detroit Land Bank Authority; Regina Royan, Department of Health and Wellness Protection, City of Detroit; O’Dell Tate, Department of Neighborhoods, City of Detroit. Back to the top

 

Downtown Motown: The Way You Do the Things You Do

After years of vacant storefronts, abandoned office space, and few residents, Downtown Detroit is making a major comeback. Billions of dollars in residential and commercial redevelopment are regenerating the core of downtown, which is now experiencing a swift resurgence of demand and residential occupancy rates of over 97%. Participants will first get an overview of the downtown turnaround via the People Mover, the elevated rail line, where they will see the Riverwalk and Grand Circus Park. Next participants will walk downtown to experience a street-level view of key commercial and office rehabilitation sites. Finally, participants will take a bus to Midtown, where philanthropic, public, and private partners, have aligned efforts to revitalize the area through a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly redevelopment strategy that leverages local employment anchors and M1-Rail, a new street car line. 

Speakers: Elise Fields, Midtown Detroit, Inc.; Sean Jackson, Rock Ventures. Back to the top

 

Training Workshops


Neighborhood Markets: Shaping Neighborhood Change Strategy 

Neighborhoods occupy many points along a continuum, from the strongest-market neighborhoods, with the greatest housing demand and the highest prices, to the weakest, where few people choose to live and prices are low. The strength of a neighborhood’s housing market is closely related to many other factors, including tax delinquencies, vacancy rate, homeownership rate, level of owner investment, and the volume of new construction. Because of these relationships, the neighborhood’s market conditions affect virtually any neighborhood change strategy that a city government or community organization may pursue, including code enforcement, land banking, and property reuse. Since there is no one overall measure that tells practitioners and policymakers what market conditions are, they generally use a series of indicators to measure market conditions in an area. The session will provide an introduction to market indicators, data, and how to make decisions based on this information. Participants in this training will work through a case study where they will analyze data from a hypothetical neighborhood situation and make program decisions based on that data. This session will be capped at 50 people in order to allow for a hands-on, small group training. 

Speakers: Jeff Hebert, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (Presentation); Tom Hetrick, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation; Danielle Lewinski, Center for Community Progress (Presentation); Alan Mallach, Center for Community Progress (Presentation). Back to the top

 

Encouraging Responsible Landlords: The Role of Rental Housing Regulation 

Rental housing is a critical part of the housing stock in every community. While most landlords and tenants are responsible members of the community, some are not, and poorly maintained and unsafe housing can destabilize neighborhoods, reduce surrounding property values, and increase abandonment. When properly understood and deployed, rental housing regulations serve to strengthen housing values, provide needed housing to low-income residents and improve quality of life. In this session, participants will learn how effective rental regulation can foster responsible landlord behavior and create a rental housing stock that is well-managed, safe, and in compliance with local codes. Speakers will focus on identifying problem owners and targeting enforcement resources, as well as motivating good practices and rewarding responsible ownership. Small group discussion will allow participants to try out what they’ve learned by developing a strategic response to commonly encountered on-the-ground issues. This session will be capped at 50 people. 

Speakers: Karen Black, May 8 Consulting, Inc.; Nicole Heyman, Center for Community Progress. (PresentationBack to the top

 

General Workshops 


Land Banking 101: Everything You Wanted to Learn About Land Banking 

What is a land bank, and what does it do? This ground-level, introductory course on land banking will take an in-depth look at how land banks can be used as one of the critical tools to acquire, maintain, and reuse problem properties. Hear from leading land bank practitioners from across the country on how to form, fund and operate a land bank in accordance with market-driven and community goals. This session will educate participants on how land banks are structured to conform to the political and market environments in which they’re located and how they’re aligned with other tools and programs focused on neighborhood stabilization. To help frame how the concepts in this session have been applied in a range of communities, from large urban cities to rural counties, representatives from several land banks will share their experiences and engage in a facilitated discussion. 

Speakers: Tarik Abdelazim, Center for Community Progress; Kim Graziani, Center for Community Progress; An Lewis, Steel Valley Council of Government; Dennis Roberts, Cuyahoga County Land Bank (Presentation); Katelyn Wright, Greater Syracuse Land Bank and New York Land Bank Association. (PresentationBack to the top

 

Demystifying Data: Understanding Neighborhood Indicators 

Join data experts from organizations around the country including several partners of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) in a preconference session to learn the ins-and-outs of the data we all need to better understand our communities, make important policy decisions, and monitor changing neighborhood conditions. NNIP is a collaborative network coordinated by the Urban Institute and consisting of local data intermediaries in close to three dozen cities in the U.S. These data experts will give examples of how data can be used to inform your work and which data sources work best for particular purposes.  Data can be used to characterize and evaluate vacancy and neighborhood distress, housing market conditions and neighborhood context. The presenters will include information on where to find these data as well as address shortcomings of the data. Participants will walk away from this session with an understanding of where their data gaps may lie and how to fill those gaps using data from local or regional government or from national sources like the US Postal Service or the US Census Bureau. 

Speakers: Mike Carnathan, Atlanta Regional Commission and Neighborhood Nexus – Atlanta; Payton Heins, Center for Community Progress; Rob Pitingolo, Urban Institute (Presentation); Geoff Smith, Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University; Eleanor Tutt, Rise. Back to the top

 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

2:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Mobile Workshops 

 

Meet the Motor City 

Detroit has been garnering major national attention, but what’s really happening in the neighborhoods of the Motor City? Three themes are shaping discussion and the city’s streets: community, collaboration, and opportunity. Learn how they are playing out across Detroit’s core and the distressed neighborhoods surrounding it. In the city’s core, we’ll visit East Riverfront, Midtown and Eastern Market. In the surrounding neighborhoods, West Village, Island View and  McDougall-Hunt, we’ll learn about the innovative approaches neighborhoods facing large stretches of vacancy and abandonment are developing. Whether you’ve been in Detroit a day or a lifetime this tour will give you a better understanding of Detroit’s past, present and future. 

Speakers: Jeanette Pierce, Detroit Experience Factory. Back to the top

 

Blight to Broccoli: Urban Agriculture as a Motor City Economic Engine 

Local food takes on new meaning when the journey from farm to market takes place entirely within city limits. This workshop will begin at Detroit’s historic Eastern Market, with a short discussion on the current conditions in Detroit, the legal challenges that urban agricultural businesses face, and the role of Eastern Market as a regional food hub and food business incubator. A short walking tour of the Eastern Market district will offer participants the opportunity to mingle with farmers and food entrepreneurs who depend on Eastern Market as a distribution channel. Next, participants will travel to the Detroit Market Garden, one of three production farms operated by The Greening of Detroit, another local nonprofit. Located within the Eastern Market District, the site contains four hoop houses and serves as an urban farming training, production, and processing location. The site grows produce year round. Participants in this workshop will come away with deepened knowledge of the barriers to implementing urban agriculture projects, methods for overcoming those barriers, and the overall impact of a robust local food system on neighborhoods and local economies. 

Speakers: Jacqueline Hand, University of Detroit Mercy Law School; Amanda Gregory, Eastern Market Corporation and Detroit Revitalization Fellowship Program; Tepfirah Rushdan, The Greening of Detroit; Monica Tabares, The Greening of Detroit; Marcellus Wheeler, The Greening of Detroit. Back to the top

 

Motorless Motor City: Detroit’s Riverfront By Bike 

Come learn about the transformation of Detroit’s International Riverfront on a two-hour bicycle tour. Cyclists will start at the Riverwalk, which connects the east riverfront’s parks, plazas, pavilions, pathways, and open green space. From rain barrel workshops to tai chi, the Riverwalk offers events throughout the year. Next, participants will bike along the Dequindre Cut, a former Grand Truck Railroad line transformed into a 1.5-mile connective greenway, and learn about the public, nonprofit, and private partnerships that made the project possible. From there, participants will pedal to Eastern Market, a six-block public market with more than 250 independent vendors and merchants that anchors the largest public market district in the country, and learn about the impact of the market on the area’s revitalization. The bike route will continue through Lafayette Park, an internationally renowned district of both historic and modern residential architecture, and home to the first urban renewal project in the United States. Participants will learn about the impact of the project on the fabric of the community. Bikes and helmets will be provided.

Speakers: Wheelhouse Detroit. Back to the top

 

Southwest Detroit: Block-by-Block Transformation Through Collaboration

Southwest Detroit, known for its vibrant, distinctive, and diverse mixed-use neighborhoods, has combated blight through innovative projects and collaborations that have attracted investment and transformed neighborhoods. In this mobile workshop, participants will meet and learn from the community leaders who have led a number of transformative, urban interventions and developments from Corktown to Springwells Village, including efforts around arts and culture, neighborhood retail investment, real estate, and infrastructure development. The tour will include sights such as Community Health and Social Services (CHASS) Center, the Mexicantown Mercado, and the site of the International Trade Bridge. The revitalization efforts in Southwest demonstrate how collaboration and small-scale projects can ignite a neighborhood. 

Speakers: Rob Dewaeslsche, LISC and Mexicantown CDC; Hector Hernandez, Southwest Solutions; Erin Kelly, Detroit Future City; Tiffany Tononi, UNI; Timothy Thorland, Southwest Solutions; Kathy Wendler, Southwest Detroit Business Association. Back to the top

 

Brighter Days for Brightmoor: A Grassroots Movement to Reclaim a Neighborhood 

By 2010, the population of Brightmoor, a neighborhood in northwest Detroit, was less than 12,836, dropping 35% over 10 years. Engaged residents have come to terms with the fact that the population won’t rebound any time soon, but have also built a grassroots movement to take back their neighborhood. In this workshop, participants will see firsthand the reclamation activities underway in Brightmoor. These include urban farming, pocket parks, and cutting-edge hydro farming. An abandoned building has been reclaimed as a neighborhood outdoor theatre, while others are being reworked as art objects. Along 28 blocks of cleared land, a walking path is planned. Brightmoor is a diverse, eclectic example of faith-based, entrepreneurial repurposing, largely attributable to residents’ willingness to volunteer their time. It speaks to the capacity of people to redefine their space to create economic, social, and aesthetic benefits, with limited resources but incredible vision and determination. 

Speakers: Billie Hickey, Neighbors Building Brightmoor; Gwen Shivers, Neighbors Building Brightmoor; James DeMoines, Neighbors Building Brightmoor; Daniel Coleman, Neighbors Building Brightmoor; Jill Nienhuis, Neighbors Building Brightmoor; Kieran Neal, Neighbors Building Brightmoor; Ashley Atkinson, Keep Growing Detroit. Back to the top

 

Trainings Workshops 

 

Maximizing Impact: Creating a Blight Elimination Framework 

As the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan states, “Every neighborhood has a future, and it doesn’t include blight.” Achieving this aspiration will take an array of tools, financial and human resources, and a broad coalition of stakeholders. But we know that communities confronting a significant amount of blight lack the resources they need. As a result, taking a coordinated and collaborative approach that aligns the tools, resources, and stakeholders that are present in a community is even more critical in order to make a positive impact. Blight elimination frameworks, created in a handful of cities over the last few years, are one way to guide that alignment. This training will walk you through the steps of creating a blight elimination framework in your city. Trainers will focus on key issues including process (defining the problem, determining and articulating goals, quantifying existing need and resources, developing current and future neighborhood typologies, and engaging stakeholders), tools, and interventions (most specifically strategic demolition but also code enforcement, and property reuse). This session will be capped at 50 people in order to allow for a hands-on, small group training. 

Speakers: Deb Dansby, Rock Ventures (Presentation); Danielle Lewinski, Center for Community Progress (Presentation); Natalie Pruett; Center for Community Progress (Presentation). Back to the top

 

Using Market Driven Decision-Making for Strategic Code Enforcement Success 

When used proactively, a strategic code enforcement program can help local governments identify, halt, and reverse the negative impact of vacant, abandoned, and problem properties. The goal of any such program is to encourage private owners to maintain their property and use it productively. The ability to gain compliance, however, is as much a function of the economics of a property and its neighborhood as of the effectiveness of the code enforcement system. Code enforcement strategies, therefore, need to be sensitive and adapt to the different economic conditions that exist block by block within a city. This training will prepare participants to develop a strategic code enforcement program that incorporates regulation, policy, cost recovery, and carrots and sticks. Speakers will focus on elements including inspections and citations, administrative remedies, nuisance abatement, receivership, and building connections to other neighborhood stabilization efforts. Small group discussion will allow participants to try out what they’ve learned by developing a strategic response to a hypothetical situation. This session will be capped at 50 people. 

Speakers: Michael Braverman, Baltimore Housing (Presentation); Laura Settlemyer, Center for Community Progress (Presentation). Back to the top

 

Social and Racial Equity in Urban Revitalization: Looking at the Past to Inform the Present 

As a result of federal, state, and local law and policy that historically discriminated on the basis of race – from urban renewal projects to redlining – communities of color and low-income communities have been particularly hard hit by vacant and abandoned properties. This session will examine historic housing and community development policy in the context of race and class, evaluating the long-lasting impacts on certain communities. Practitioners and policymakers will be encouraged to use this historic lens to reflect on current revitalization policies and strategies, and how they may be directly and indirectly impacting communities of color and low-income residents. Participants will hear from leading researchers who have studied social equity in urban revitalization and current practitioners who have experienced through their work the disproportionate impacts of some housing and community development policies on particular communities. The session will conclude with an opportunity to explore both with the panelists and fellow participants the challenges of and opportunities for developing socially equitable revitalization policies. 

Speakers: Leonard Adams Jr., Quest Community Development Organization; Christina Kelly, Genesee County Land Bank (Presentation); Dr. June Manning Thomas, University of Michigan (Presentation); Sara Toering, Center for Community Progress; Paul Tutwiler, Northwest Jacksonville CDC. Back to the top

 

 

General Workshops 

 

Why Bad Things Happen to Good Neighborhoods: The Latest Research for Practitioners And Strategists 

At times, it can feel like research and practice happen on parallel tracks, with no chance to intersect and learn from each other. This in-depth session will build an intersection, giving practitioners the opportunity to learn what the latest research says about their work and have the chance to interact directly with the researchers. Research topics that will be covered include abandonment, mortgage foreclosure, tax delinquency, demolition and changes from homeownership to rental tenure. Participants will learn how these and other factors affect neighborhood housing markets, demand for housing, and the confidence of both existing residents and future buyers, and how they can use this information to frame more effective strategies to deal with neighborhood and problem property challenges. This session will give participants the opportunity to pose their questions about problem properties and neighborhood change to a panel of expert researchers. 

Speakers: Margaret Dewar, University of Michigan and Center for Community Progress; Alan Mallach, Center for Community Progress. (Full presentationBack to the top  


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

10:45 AM - 12:15 PM


Using Data to Manage Progress and Measure Success: Chicago’s Micro Market Recovery Program Model 

Like many older cities, Chicago is wrestling with a backlog of vacant and abandoned properties caused by the triple punch of the Great Recession, the burst of the housing bubble, and population decline, particularly in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods. In response, Chicago created the Micro Market Recovery Program (MMRP) in 2012 with two goals in mind: keeping existing homeowners in their homes and reoccupying vacant properties.The MMRP leverages and coordinates a range of resources, including city enforcement and development incentives, the expertise of community development partners, court-ordered receivership, and other programs. Its robust data infratructure coordinates the efforts of twenty organizations who monitor over 15,000 properties in thirteen distressed target areas, tracks clear reoccupation and homeowner stabilization outcomes, and evaluates the program based on market impact. In this interactive session, Chicago leaders will introduce the MMRP model and lessons learned over the last 36 months before diving deeply into the program’s data framework, including a database, smartphone app, and housing market performance indicators. In small groups, participants will reflect on how this program, particularly its data framework, could translate to their own community, while panelists circulate to answer questions. In the last few minutes, the session will reconvene as a large group to discuss key questions that came up in the small groups. 

Speakers: Sarah Duda, Institute for Housing Studies, DePaul University; Bryan Esenberg, City of Chicago; Marcy Huttas, Mercy Portfolio Services; Jack Swenson, City of Chicago, Micro Market Recovery Program. (PresentationBack to the top

 

Understanding Landscapes: New Tools for Fighting Urban Vacancy 

In Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Detroit, vacant land warriors are employing landscape-based tools to fight urban vacancy. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS)’s LandCare program has used landscape treatments to transform millions of square feet of vacant land, and PHS teamed up with world-renowned OLIN Labs to powerfully expand the program. PHS has also spearheaded a unique land trust that acquires community gardens and preserves them as neighborhood anchors. Recognizing that many of its vacant properties are in markets too weak to support real estate development, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority has begun working with Tulane City Center and LSU’s Urban Landscape Lab to invest in landscape-driven redevelopment strategies to stabilize neighborhoods, mitigate street flooding, provide community green spaces, and reduce long-term maintenance costs. Detroit Future City is partnering with a network of local stakeholders to develop the Guide, a web- and print-based resource for implementing a diversified suite of landscape-driven solutions, ranging from participatory remediation to snowmelt management. Representatives from these three cities will present lessons learned, and how a data-driven, planning-oriented, landscape-smart approach can reveal creative, economical uses for vacant land and connect to broader redevelopment efforts. 

Speakers: Jeff Barg, Pennsylvania Horticulture Society; Jenny Greenberg, Neighborhood Gardens Trust; Bob Grossmann, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; Jeff Hebert, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority; Erin Kelly, Detroit Future City. Back to the top

 

Public Safety and Property Revitalization: Partnerships for Success 

Given the connection between vacant and blighted properties and crime in residential neighborhoods and commercial corridors, it’s vital for law enforcement to be involved in creating redevelopment strategies – but what should those partnerships look like? Representatives from Dayton, Ohio and Austin, Texas will discuss how building strong alliances between community and law enforcements leaders has led to the revitalization of residential neighborhoods and commercial corridors in their own communities. From residential rehabilitation to multifamily and small commercial redevelopment, these communities have leveraged Department of Justice Byrne grants to build a collaborative strategy across community groups, developers, and local police departments. 

Speakers: Commander Donald Baker, Austin Police Department, North Substation; Kate Ervin, East End Community Services; Sr. Police Officer Rafael Kianes, Austin Police Department (Presentation); Tony Kroeger, City of Dayton, Department of Planning and Community Development; Matt Perkins, Local Initiative Support Corporation, Community Safety Initiative; Emily Riggs, East End Community Services (Presentation). Back to the top

 

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough:  Efficient, Effective, and Equitable Tax Foreclosure Reform

Property tax foreclosure systems can exacerbate or help resolve vacancy, abandonment and distress in municipal communities.  Whether the goal is safeguarding responsible ownership of vacant properties, ensuring that governments gain the upside and not just the liabilities presented by property tax delinquent parcels, helping keep residents in their homes, or supporting a funding stream for land banking activities, reform of the tax foreclosure system is on the minds of community advocates and governments across the nation. In this session, legal experts, practitioners, and government officials will discuss delinquent property tax enforcement 101 and its links to neighborhood stabilization. 

Speakers: Joan Jacobson, Independent Journalist and Researcher; Cathy LaMont, First American Title; Sara Toering, Center for Community Progress (Presentation); Hon. David J. Szymanski, Wayne County. Back to the top

 

Double-Time Demos: Implementing Large Scale Demolition 

Michigan has seen an influx of federal and state funding for demolition in recent years. The Detroit Land Bank and Genesee County Land Bank have played integral roles implementing large-scale demolition in Detroit and Flint, Mich. To make this possible, both land banks have created effective and efficient policies and processes to increase the number of demolitions while decreasing costs and the time it takes for a demolition to be completed. Join panelists as they discuss the lessons learned from bringing demolition programs to scale. Attendees will walk away with ideas and strategies that can be implemented in their own communities when ramping up demolition, including the importance of partnering with local energy providers, how to rethink demo specs and bidding to reduce costs, environmental considerations, and navigating state regulations. 

Speakers: Carrie Lewand Monroe, Detroit Land Bank Authority; Christina Kelly, Genesee County Land Bank Authority. (Full PresentationBack to the top

 

Rebuilding Neighborhood Markets: Strategies for Linking Small Business Support and Commercial Vacant Property Reuse 

While guidance for the redevelopment of residential properties abounds, there has long been an information gap on redeveloping commercial vacant properties, which can be equally prevalent in older industrial regions. One constraint on commercial vacant property reuse is the need to find new users for the space, especially since Legacy Cities frequently have a deficiency of small business supports. This session will feature an interactive discussion that will encourage attendees to engage with experts on innovative practices and opportunities for linking small business development and commercial vacant property reuse. By bringing together experts and practitioners from across the country who work on related issues, the panel will explore both gaps and opportunities in Legacy Cities to enhance place-based investments and, potentially, advance supportive policies. Panelists will discuss ways to tailor existing programs to support small business development, as well as new program ideas. The session will also explore financial tools for advancing these strategies. The panel will encourage audience discussion and questions about next steps to stimulate small business development and commercial property and district revitalization. 

Speakers: Mark Barbash, The Finance Fund; Lavea Brachman, Greater Ohio Policy Center (Presentation); Kimberly Faison, ProsperUS Detroit (Presentation); Jeffrey Ramsey, Detroit Shoreway Community (Presentation). Back to the top

 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

 

Renewing Communities through Collaboration: New Jersey’s Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Success 

Recognized with the 2013 HUD Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships, New Jersey corporations, funders, and local community-based organizations have worked in partnership with local residents since 2003 to revitalize 26 low-income neighborhoods in the state. The partnership uses a comprehensive set of physical, social, and human capital programs to create a tipping point for problem property reclamation and neighborhood revitalization.  Participants will learn how the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program (NRTC), and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey have catalyzed positive change. They will develop an understanding of the NRTC program, which provides $10 million for these efforts each year and is leveraged to secure substantial additional investment for planning and implementation. After an overview of statewide revitalization efforts, the session will dive deeply into a case study of the City of Camden, N.J. A facilitated discussion between field practitioners, policy advocates, and public and private funders about the real costs and benefits of the broad-based effort will bring the work to life. Audience participants will be invited to share their challenges and questions for conversation and response. 

Speakers: Staci Berger, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey; Bradley Harrington, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs; Raphael Kasen, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey; Meishka Mitchell, Cooper's Ferry Partnership. Back to the top 


Creative Placemaking: Strengthening the Fabric of Community While Combating Vacancy 

Public sector and community-based leaders across the country are leveraging arts and cultural strategies to improve and stabilize neighborhoods facing vacant, abandoned, and other problem properties. In this session, you will hear from three individuals whose work presents replicable models that you can use to strengthen the social, physical, and economic fabric of your community through art and culture. You will hear from three organizations. The Cooperative Community of New West Jackson is a resident-led effort to take ownership over the future of Jackson, Mississippi's West Jackson neighborhood. The Alley Project (TAP) Gallery leverages social capital in Springwells, Detroit to create innovative uses for underutilized lots and alleyways. Northeast Shores catalyzes municipal and federal investments to establish new arts-driven development models in Collinwood, a historically industrial neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio. Participants will learn from their challenges, ask questions, and investigate the unique value that art and culture can bring to their work.

Speakers: Brian Friedman, Northeast Shores Development Corporation (Presentation); Erik Howard, The Alley Project; Wendy Jackson, The Kresge Foundation; Nia Umoja, Cooperative Community of New West Jackson (Presentation). Back to the top

 

Funding and Beyond: Building a Code Enforcement Budget 

Code enforcement plays a critical role in enhancing neighborhood desirability, stabilizing market conditions, and improving housing and quality of life, but many municipalities struggle to fund sufficient code enforcement operations. In an era when the mantra is “do more with what you’ve got…or with even less,” some code enforcement departments have found creative, smart ways to do just that. This session will examine often-overlooked methods of stretching budget dollars through process mapping, streamlining, and improvement, tracking and recovering actual agency costs, accelerating enforcement with repeat violators, and others.  In addition, the session will provide guidance for deploying CDBG entitlements to fund code enforcement operations in CDBG entitlement jurisdictions. Time will be set aside for participants to share their own challenges and receive feedback from the panel. 

Speakers: Mark Frater, LEANFirm Inc. (Presentation); Ellen Lee, City of New Orleans and Center for Community Progress (Presentation); Doug Leeper, Code Enforcement Solutions. Back to the top

 

Signed, Sealed Delivered? Property Tax Lien Sales and Municipal and Neighborhood Stabilization 

Sales of delinquent local government property tax liens to local and foreign investors are often touted as a short term budget stabilization tool for local governments, but what are the costs of this practice on long-term community health? A panel of experts will discuss the current state of this widespread municipal practice, growing research outlining long term destabilizing effects of tax lien sales. They will also walk participants through alternatives, such as tax lien servicing contracts, that may help stabilize local government budgets while also maintaining key public leverage points over vacant, abandoned, and substandard tax delinquent properties. 

Speakers: Frank Alexander, Center for Community Progress; Hillary Botein, Baruch College, School of Public Affairs; J. Lyn Entrikin, William H. Bowen School of Law, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Jacklyn Ortiz, City of Rochester, NY. Back to the top

 

A Sunny Disposition: Effective Methods for Returning Property to Productive Use 

For public entities, including land banks, acquiring vacant or abandoned properties is just the beginning. Next, they face another significant challenge: developing effective systems to transfer property back to responsible owners. This session will highlight the advantages and limitations of specific disposition types, including side lot programs, auctions, and direct sales, among others. In addition, speakers will explore technology platforms and creative marketing strategies that can support the success of disposition programs. Finally, speakers will address how specific disposition strategies play out differently in different market contexts and how these variations impact the development of a property disposition program. Throughout, participants will be asked to share their experiences with the disposition strategies presented and will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Speakers: Dekonti Mends-Cole, Detroit Land Bank Authority (Presentation); Dennis Roberts, Cuyahoga County Land Bank; Katelyn Wright, Greater Syracuse Land Bank and New York Land Bank Association. Back to the top

 

Vacant Properties and Civil Rights: Implementing Strategies That Are Fair to All 

Severe vacant, abandoned, and problem property challenges disproportionately impact low-income, majority-minority communities, making it especially important that attempted solutions don’t inadvertently create further social injustice. In this session, oriented toward non-lawyers, participants will learn how to make sure that vacant property strategies in code enforcement, demolition, and land banking comply with civil rights laws and are substantively fair to the minority communities hardest hit by derelict buildings. Panelists will discuss legal obligations for land banks under the Fair Housing Act, strategies for communicating with residents and HUD about targeted code enforcement, socially conscious approaches to demolition, and building social equity into land banking procedures. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and will leave equipped with foundational knowledge for developing fair, just vacant property strategies in their own communities. 

Speakers: Margaret Brown, Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit; Julia Day, Baltimore Housing (Presentation) ; Jim Kelly, Notre Dame Law School (Presentation); Lisa Rice, National Fair Housing Alliance (Presentation); Anita Schmaltz, Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, Inc. (PresentationBack to the top

 

 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

 

People Power: Moving Beyond Resident Engagement to Create Broader Community Impact 

Putting blighted land to work for the direct benefit of residents means harnessing the power of both to create broad, enduring change. Leaders from the nationally recognized, resident-led Market Creek Plaza project will facilitate this session, which focuses on the power of working with residents in planning, implementing, and owning the change in their communities. Market Creek Plaza transformed an area known as “the four corners of death” into a safe, vibrant cultural and commercial hub in southeastern San Diego. Participants will learn how citizen teams accelerated the return of a 20-acre brownfield to productive use, bringing a full service grocery store, creating 200 jobs, reducing gang crime and youth violence, increasing cross-cultural understanding, and exemplifying powerful placemaking. Participants will explore tools for engaging and deploying resident teams, as well as how a community-based co-investment platform can be built with public and private partners alongside resident stakeholders. Using the lessons from Market Creek, participants will then work in teams on strategies and principles for turning blight into value through a process that builds capacity and catalyzes broader community change. 

Speakers: Ron Cummings, VanicaCummings Community Change Actioneering; Jennifer Vanica, VanicaCummings Community Change Actioneering. Back to the top

 

Code Red: Using Nuisance Abatement to Tackle the Abandonment Crisis    

Absentee owners and predatory investors have created a crisis situation in many urban neighborhoods, but some cities are wielding powerful legal tools to fight back. This session will discuss innovative, high-impact nuisance abatement litigation strategies to empower and engage communities suffering from abandonment. Panelists from Baltimore, Md. and Detroit, Mich. will share their challenges and successes with particular legal tools, and dive into strategies for targeting the particularly egregious absentee owners—the ones whose irresponsibility is harming multiple disinvested neighborhoods—with maximum effectiveness. Panelists will also discuss the importance of forging partnerships across government, grassroots organizations, philanthropic and educational institutions, and pro bono counsel, to boldly advocate for revitalization that brings assets back to the communities predatory investors have victimized. 

Speakers: Robin Jacobs, Strategic Legal Services Projects, Community Law Center, Inc.; Jelani Karamoko, Detroit Land Bank Authority; Kevin Shelton, Detroit Land Bank Authority. (Full presentationBack to the top

 

Lots of Possibility: Inspiring Public Participation through Vacant Lot Competitions 

Vacant lot competitions are growing in popularity as a tool for inspiring fresh, creative ideas about vacant lot reuse and also, importantly, for helping to reframe public discussion about vacant land from a focus on liabilities to a focus on possibilities. Presenters will first give an overview of different competition models that have been used around the country, looking at factors including the range of institutional players and partnerships, funding sources, competition structures, project criteria, technical assistance available for winners, marketing, and overall strengths and weaknesses. Participants will then hear from two cities, Louisville and New Orleans, which have implemented successful vacant lot competitions. The Louisville and Jefferson County Landbank Authority, Inc., working with partners, created the Lots of Possibility competition in January 2013, receiving more than 250 entries from around the nation in both temporary and permanent use categories. In New Orleans, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority and the Van Alen Institute launched Future Ground, bringing together professionals from around the world to develop flexible design and policy strategies for reusing vacant land in New Orleans in 2015, 2025, and 2055. Each city will discuss successes and challenges, funding, how competitions can be used to galvanize new partnerships across professional and geographic silos, and how design ideas can influence policy change and vice versa. Audience members will have significant time to ask questions and discuss ideas. 

Speakers: Jeana Dunlap, Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government; Cristina Garmendia, Opportunity Space; Dan Kinkead, Detroit Future City; Mary McGuire, Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government (Presentation, Hand-outs: Lots of Possibility Entry Form, 200 Ideas for Vacant Lots); Colleen McHugh, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (Presentation); Curtis Stauffer, Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky; Phil Valko, Washington University in St. Louis (Presentation); David van der Leer, Van Alen Institute (Presentation).  Back to the top

 

When the Students Are Gone: Repurposing Shuttered Schools 

Large-scale closings and consolidations of public school buildings are becoming more common across the country. Decommissioned schools often sit empty for years or decades. Many of the structures deteriorate quickly into nuisance properties plagued by vandalism, drug use, and illegal dumping. Repurposing has not traditionally been a core skill or a priority for school districts, and community residents have been left to deal with the negative consequences. This is changing. With the number of vacant properties climbing and with finances tighter than ever, finding new life after students for shuttered schools is an increasingly urgent matter. Dedicated school district officials are now working together with city agencies, private developers, and community-based organizations to reduce and prevent school vacancy-induced blight. The success stories are adding up even as challenges remain. In this session, practitioners will discuss the strategies and tools they use to successfully redevelop closed schools. The presentation will first review findings from research on school repurposing efforts in 12 cities, including examples of engaging local residents in the redevelopment process,  and will then move into an interactive discussion between panelists from Detroit, Kansas City, and the audience. The session will cover setting priorities, community engagement efforts, funding sources, and forging partnerships, among other topics. 

Speakers: Tammy Deane, Detroit Public Schools; Emily Dowdall, Pew Charitable Trusts (Presentation); Shannon Jaxx, Kansas City Public Schools. Back to the top

 

Revitalization With Roots; Best Practices in Legacy City Historic Preservation 

Preservation is about more than halting demolition and rehabbing old buildings; it’s an integral part of a well-rounded, thoughtful approach to community development. Historic preservation uses culture to build community, shares stories to stimulate public engagement, and generates data to support decision-making. In this session, participants will explore some of the innovative ways preservation adds value to revitalization efforts in Legacy Cities and neighborhoods. During this session panelists will showcase replicable preservation initiatives and how these initiatives connected to and enhanced a broader revitalization strategy. Initiatives will include local history projects that engage racially diverse communities, cultural programs that enhance the delivery of social services, and townscape surveys that engage the public while compiling vital planning data. Participants will reflect in small groups on the key lessons presented and then reconvene to share insights and questions. 

Speakers: Matt Cole, Chicago Greystone & Vintage Home Program/Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago (Presentation); Tom Hetrick, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (Presentation); David Mann, Lucas County Land Bank (Presentation); Brad White, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Back to the top

 

A Collaborative, Place-Based Approach to Federal Revitalization Efforts

One hallmark of the Obama Administration’s approach to investing in neighborhoods, communities, and regions has been a focus on cross-sector and cross-agency solutions with private and public partners at the table. In this session, federal officials from multiple agencies will discuss recent federal trends in place-based investment, including efforts to integrate community and economic development, and lessons learned from this work. Panelists will offer updates on how the Administration is continuing to support this approach and will provide the opportunity for input and questions from session participants. 

Speakers: Honorable Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary, Ind.; Cliff Kellogg, White House, Detroit Federal Working Group; Erika Poethig, The Urban Institute and Center for Community Progress; Kate Reynolds, White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities. (Full presentationBack to the top

 

 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

8:30 AM -10:00 AM

 

Working Better, Together: A New Approach to CDC and Local Government Partnerships 

Many community development corporations have moved beyond the traditional, narrow focus on physical development to take on a more comprehensive approach to enhancing the lives of community residents through community development. Recognizing that communities’ challenges are complex and interconnected, this expanded approach to addressing blight and fostering revitalization works best when implemented through robust partnerships. Join panelists from the City of Milwaukee, Wis., Trumbull County, Ohio, and Cleveland Ohio to hear how they have forged innovative partnerships between municipalities and community development corporations to address the need for rehabilitation, strategic disposition, and code enforcement. 

Speakers: Martha Brown, City of Milwaukee (Presentation); Presley Gillespie, Neighborhood Allies and Center for Community Progress; Matt Martin, Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership; Ronald O'Leary, City of Cleveland (Presentation). Back to the top

 

Forty More Years: What Lies Ahead for the Land Bank Movement 

Join panelists as they shift focus from the past forty years of the land bank movement to the path ahead, examining new challenges, future opportunities and the land bank’s role in creating a “Bold Movement Beyond Blight.” This session will begin with a brief reflection on the lessons learned from more than four decades of land banking in America, including information garnered from Community Progress’ recently released national land bank report. The session will then pivot to focus on the future, as land banks grow in number, and the challenges they face and approaches they use continue to evolve. Leading experts and practitioners will examine a range of challenges and opportunities for the land bank movement, such as financing and federal policy, disaster recovery and community resiliency, and building deeper, more diverse coalitions to better serve communities. 

Speakers: Tarik Abdelazim, Center for Community Progress; Gus Frangos, Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp. (Presentation); Jeff Hebert, City of New Orleans; Alison Souther Goldey, Macon-Bibb County Land Bank Authority (Presentation). Back to the top

 

Understand Your Community Through Data: Property Parcel Surveys in Three Communities 

Developing a comprehensive and accurate dataset of property conditions in your community is important to understand current and changing neighborhood conditions and inform critical policy decisions. Learn about the range of options available for surveying your community and developing a robust dataset of property condition data. Three cities covering the spectrum of technology, cost, and capacity share their experiences: Flint, Mich.; Trenton, N.J.; and Detroit, Mich. Representatives from these communities will share their approaches to citywide parcel surveys – using both paper-based and mobile applications – and how the data was used to inform master planning efforts, secure critical blight elimination funding, and engage residents along the way. In 2012, the City of Flint partnered with the Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF) to grant a small pot of unused grant funds to 27 community-based organizations to assess the condition of residential properties within a three-month timeframe in and around their respective neighborhoods, using a traditional paper-based method. This successful initiative was repeated for commercial properties. In Trenton, N.J., a team led by the nonprofit Isles, Inc. bootstrapped a tech-savvy field survey on a shoestring budget, collecting parcel data in under two months. The Motor City Mapping project in Detroit, Mich. was a massive citywide effort to survey 380,000 properties, accomplished through mobile applications, paid resident data-gathering “foot soldiers,” and the support of both for-profit and philanthropic entities. 

Speakers: Kevin Schronce, City of Flint (Presentation); Sean Jackson, Rock Ventures (Presentation); Julia Taylor, Isles, Inc. (Presentation). Back to the top

 

Safe Demolitions At Any Speed: Recent Public Health Improvements to Residential Demolition in Detroit 

The existence of blight threatens the public health, safety, and welfare of a community—directly, by attracting criminal activity, and also indirectly, by discouraging residents from being outside and active, which can lead to increased instances of obesity, asthma, and other health concerns. While the use of demolition to eliminate blight can be necessary, precautions must be taken to safeguard public health in the process. The City of Detroit recently completed an overhaul of residential demolition practices in advance of a major increase in demolition activity. Residential building demolitions now better address public health. Improvements include better community notification, fugitive dust control, hazardous material handling/disposal, stormwater infiltration, backfill contamination testing, and deconstruction. In this session, participants will hear an overview of public health advances in the Detroit demolition process and lessons learned from the 4,000 demolitions completed in the last year. 

Speakers: Michael Brady, Detroit Land Bank Authority; Brian Farkas, Detroit Building Authority; Jon Grosshans, US Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 (Presentation); Regina Royan, Department of Health and Wellness Protection, City of Detroit (Presentation). Back to the top

 

Opportunity Sites: Transforming Vacant Industrial Property into Citywide Assets 

Detroit’s vacant industrial sites reflect 60 years of disinvestment and decline, and total more than 6 square miles of land area. Recent initiatives completed by Detroit Future City, the German Marshall Fund, and the University of Michigan Ross School of Business reveal how existing industrial land and facilities may be transformed into viable assets that leverage Detroit’s industrial legacy while introducing innovative programs that make a big impact. This session, will outline objectives and methods for industrial parcel and facility reutilization, present innovative reuse examples from a range of communities, and discuss what this can mean for cities such as Detroit. 

Speaker: Thomas Bartnik, PGH Green Innovators (Presentation); Chris Dorle, Strong Cities, Strong Communities Fellow, Detroit Future City (Presentation); Dan Kinkead, Detroit Future City (Presentation); Gabrielle Muris, RDM Rotterdam, Netherlands (Presentation). Back to the top

 

Neighborhood-scale Green Infrastructure in Three Great Lakes Cities 

Green infrastructure is a reuse option for vacant urban land that can provide multiple benefits, including improvement to ecological function, neighborhood stabilization, job creation, and environmental justice. While large projects are primarily designed to maximize stormwater benefits, small projects—such as rain gardens or bioswales—embedded in neighborhoods also present an opportunity to reenvision urban neighborhoods as walkable communities. This session will explore a project undertaken by an interdisciplinary team in Gary, Ind., Cleveland, Ohio, and Buffalo, N.Y. that installs small, clustered green infrastructure projects in urban neighborhoods. Team members are utilizing their geographically disparate neighborhoods, which share a number of key traits and challenges, to develop and test vacant land treatments that can be useful across the Great Lakes region. Participants will hear about methodologies and lessons learned in a frank discussion about trial and error in the emerging field of green infrastructure. Three panelists will present diverse community reactions to the plans and implemented projects, successes and failures of various project elements, strategies for long-term maintenance and social enterprise, and recommendations for how participants can improve their own neighborhoods through strategic urban greening. 

Speakers: Sandra Albro, Cleveland Botanical Garden; Jenifer Kaminsky, Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Corp.; Brenda Scott Henry, City of Gary, Indiana, Department of Commerce, Green Urbansim and Environmental Affairs; Joshua Smith, People United for Sustainable Housing. (Full PresentationBack to the top

 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

10:30 AM -12:00 PM


Left Behind: Combating Zombie Properties 

Zombie properties, the properties where a foreclosure case has failed to be completed, are wreaking havoc in communities across the country. These properties, which are often vacant and sit in a pre-foreclosure state for years, cost municipalities and affect residents’ quality of life. Join panelists from the National Community Stabilization Trust, Youngstown and Cleveland, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wis. to hear about innovative programs being implemented to prevent zombie foreclosures, more quickly resolve mortgage-foreclosure cases, and raise funds to address the dilapidated properties. From ordinances requiring a foreclosing bank to post a $10,000 bond to offset nuisance abatement costs to working with the state trial court to use its powers to create local court rules, participants will walk away with concrete examples of how to effect positive change, add public value, and reduce blight in their own communities. 

Speakers: Annie Carvalho, National Community Stabilization Trust; Anthony Farris, (former) City of Youngstown; Frank Ford, Thriving Communities Institute; Gregg Hagopian, City of Milwaukee; Danielle Samalin, Housing Partnership Network. Back to the top

 

Conversations in Place, Arts, and Public Life 

Place Lab is a creative think tank that researches, collects, and evaluates data, and engages neighborhoods to create and test a model of community development driven by arts and culture. Our work is rooted in the idea that reinventing abandoned spaces through placemaking activates residents and community members to contribute to neighborhood change, and attracts outside investment—opening new opportunities in urban communities. Envisioned by Theaster Gates, artist, professor, and director of arts and public life at the University of Chicago, and funded by the Knight Foundation, Place Lab draws on metrics from Gates’s projects and works to export and adapt the lessons learned from these projects into community-led development in Chicago, Ill.; Akron, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; and Gary, Ind.. The session will give an overview of Place Lab’s methodology for working with these cities, namely how creative partnerships between arts and culture organizations, social justice initiatives, architects, lawyers, government agencies, designers, and residents can activate abandoned buildings, as well as how these transformations empower community members. Place Lab’s core team will lead an interactive discussion with audience members exploring how this process inherently includes, and must contend with, the unruly nature of art, the missteps of previous redevelopment initiatives and historic suspicions of transformation plans. 

Speakers: Lori Berko, Place Lab, University of Chicago, Arts and Public Life; Nootan Bharani, Place Lab, University of Chicago, Arts and Public Life; Isis Ferguson, Place Lab, University of Chicago, Arts and Public Life; Theaster Gates, University of Chicago. Back to the top

 

Open Space Land Advocacy: Adaptive Approaches to Working with Local Government 

New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore have thriving urban agriculture and resident-led greening movements – in very different political environments. The cities differ in the abundance of vacant land and how city government values it, leading local organizations to take different strategies to achieve policy change and on-the-ground results. In this session, advocates from these cities will compare and contrast the nuts-and-bolts of their local strategies. These organizations’ accomplishments include establishing a $1 price for the transfer of city-owned land in community use to qualified land trusts; contributing to the successful passage of a land bank ordinance; ensuring gardener and farmer stakeholder input in city policy; and connecting dozens of groups of neighbors to the opportunity to create new community spaces in open-space-poor communities citywide. The organizations have created useful data tools that support their advocacy. 596 Acres built an organizing tool to help advocates contextualize “open” data and transform it into information that can guide local activists. Garden Justice Legal Initiative has adopted 596’s platform to help understand community needs and inform city policy and garden preservation and support programs. Baltimore Green Space tracks data on Baltimore’s community-managed open spaces and uses this information to request that the City not sell specific lots, as well as for research and advocacy. Using this content as a starting point, participants will engage with questions such as which approaches might work best in participants’ cities and trade-offs among approaches. Participants will leave with fresh ideas for open space advocacy in their own communities. 

Speakers: Miriam Avins, Baltimore Green Space; Julia Day, Baltimore Housing; Amy Laura Cahn, Garden Justice Legal Initiative, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia; Beth Strommen, Office of Sustainability, Baltimore; Paula Segal, 596Acres, Inc. (Full PresentationBack to the top

 

This Old House: Rehab Financing for Abandoned Properties 

The session investigates how to reclaim the value of abandoned properties through innovative rehabilitation financing models in communities where traditional banking falls short. The panel will discuss the need for cross-sector partnerships working to reestablish distressed mortgage markets and pushing up residential housing prices through rehab. Additionally, participants will learn about indicators that create confidence in risk-averse lenders to expand lending in underserved communities. Lastly, the panel will look at the necessary players and partners for making rehab possible in the most difficult-to-finance housing markets. 

Speakers: David Allen, Kent County Land Bank (Presentation); Damon Hodge, Liberty Bank (Presentation); Dekonti Mends-Cole, Detroit Land Bank Authority. Back to the top

 

The Way Forward: Strong Public-Private Partnerships for Weak Markets 

In weak markets with large numbers of vacant or underutilized properties, it can be difficult to see the path forward: what are the realistic options for returning these properties to productive use? And how do we make it happen? In this session, a panel of developers, implementation strategist and redevelopment consultants will unpack what public and private entities, saddled with large portfolios of vacant properties, need to know to make the best decisions. Panelists will demonstrate how integrating market analysis and property assessments into the development process brings economic realities to a weak market and informs the way forward. Even with a clear understanding of economic realities, it s tough to  go it alone, so panelists will showcase examples of bold public-private partnerships that use market analyses to inform their work and, working collaboratively, are returning properties to productive use in markets where it would otherwise be nearly impossible. 

Speakers: James Andermann, CB&I; Catherine Califano, The Reinvestment Fund; Mark Goodson, CB&I; Beverly Moore, Baton Rouge Area Foundation. (Full PresentationBack to the top

 

Partnership Models for Inner Ring Revitalization 

Inner-ring suburbs, sandwiched between downtown reinvestment targets and greenfield development opportunities, can face unique challenges in their efforts to reclaim vacant properties and maintain an aging housing stock. This panel session will explore local and regional partnership models for overcoming those limitations: first, exploring the story of one suburb that used partnerships inside and outside of local government to catalyze enormous investment; and, second, a unique coalition of suburbs that organized to tackle interjurisdictional challenges. The City of South Euclid, a small inner-ring suburb of Cleveland, transformed crisis into opportunity when it leveraged $1.5 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds to generate $48 million in neighborhood and commercial revitalization. Participants will learn how an award-winning public-private partnership, effective partnerships between city and county departments, and a new community development corporation together led to this success. Discussion will dig into local tools including unique code enforcement initiatives, strategic tax foreclosure, and community organizing. Moving on to a regional partnership approach, leaders from a collaborative of twenty-four south suburbs of Cook County, Ill. will discuss their efforts to address shared vacant and blighted property challenges. Together, for example, the collaborative is implementing a multi-part strategy to address challenges with investor-owned single-family homes. Overall, this session will focus on the importance of cross-cutting, unconventional partnerships to address housing quality and vacancy challenges in an inner-ring suburban context.

Speakers: Brent Denzin, Ancel Glink (Presentation); Michael Love, City of South Euclid; Sally Martin, City of South Euclid (Presentation); Allison Milld Clements, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (Presentation); Pam O'Toole, One South Euclid; Geoff Smith, Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University. Back to the top