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Conference Agenda and Program


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Led by innovative champions of revitalization efforts from around the country (click here for speaker bios), our program offers 33 concurrent sessions, 7 mobile sessions and 7 in-depth training seminars that will educate, empower and energize participants to unlock the opportunities that lie in vacant properties.


Are you looking for presentations from a workshop you attended? Please find the workshop description below. If a speaker's presentation is available, the speaker's name is in blue, providing a direct link to the presentation file.


Conference Agenda of Events | Conference Program


Conference Agenda


 Monday, September 9th
10:00am – 5:00pm        Registration Open       
11:30am – 2:00pm        Workshop 1 - Mobile Sessions and Training Seminars              

2:30pm – 5:00pm          Workshop 2 - Mobile Sessions and Training Seminars

 Tuesday, September 10th
8:00am – 5:00pm         Registration Open
8:00am – 5:00pm         Exhibit Hall Open

8:00am – 10:30am      Continental Breakfast  

                                            Welcome & Opening


10:30am – 10:45am    Coffee Break 

10:45am – 12:15pm    Concurrent Session 1  

12:15pm – 1:45pm      State Caucuses or Lunch on Your Own  

2:00pm - 3:30pm        Concurrent Session 2
3:30pm - 4:00pm        Snack Break
4:00pm - 5:30pm        Concurrent Session 3
5:30pm - 7:30pm        Welcome Reception
 Wednesday, September 11th
8:00am - 10:30am       Registration Open
8:00am - 10:30am       Exhibit Hall Open
8:00am - 9:00am         Continental Breakfast
9:00am - 10:30am       Concurrent Session 4
10:30am - 11:00am     Coffee Break
11:00am - 12:30pm      Concurrent Session 5
12:45pm - 2:30pm       Closing Luncheon & Plenary

Conference Program

 Morning Workshop | Afternoon Workshop | Concurrent Session 1 | Concurrent Session 2 

Concurrent Session 3 | Concurrent Session 4 | Concurrent Session 5




MORNING WORKSHOP (11:30 am – 2:00 pm)


Mobile Session 1Beyond Greening: Growing Communities through Gardening

Recent reforms in Philadelphia’s policies and zoning code have opened the door for community groups to take advantage of vacant space and stabilize neighborhoods through community gardening and urban agriculture. This session will visit three innovative sites that have gone beyond greening to convert properties from liabilities to economic hubs and community gathering spaces. Stops will include the Norris Square Neighborhood Project that has developed troubled vacant properties into six gardens and hosted culinary workshops for residents to learn about traditional Puerto Rican cooking, which together successfully helped reduce criminal activity. We will also visit two gardening centers that have created economic opportunity and investment for residents through commercial kitchens and farmers markets. Participants will learn how policy innovations have helped break down barriers to green reuse, and see first-hand which gardening techniques work well with different land conditions.


Workshop leaders: Rafael Alvarez, Norris Square Neighborhood Project; Nicolas Esposito, Emerald Street Urban Farm; Mary Seton Corboy, Greensgrow 


Mobile Session 2Revitalization through Investment in Camden

Across the Delaware River from Philadelphia sits Camden, New Jersey – a city with a rich history. Recent challenges, including poverty, crime and abandonment, have placed significant stress on Camden’s economy and neighborhoods. While struggling with a housing vacancy rate of nearly 17%, community development corporations (CDCs) in the city have seen success in stabilizing neighborhoods through investment utilizing two key state programs: New Jersey’s Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit program and the Abandoned Property Rehabilitation Act. We will visit four Camden neighborhoods where CDCs have used these programs to rehab and build new housing, mixed use development and community amenities including a museum, gym and theater.


Workshop leaders: Betsy Clifford, Camden Lutheran Housing; Manuel Delgado, Cramer Hill Community Development Corporation; Pilar Hogan Closkey, St. Joseph's Carpenter Society; Bridget Phiffer, St. Joseph's Carpenter Society; Helene Pierson, The Heart of Camden 


Mobile Session 3Partnering with Academic Anchor Institutions to Revitalize Communities

This session will demonstrate the innovative partnerships Philadelphia’s University City District has been able to forge to leverage the resources, creativity and manpower that higher-learning institutions bring to the table for community development and revitalization. Focusing on connecting the dots for opportunities and shaping public spaces, representatives from University City District will show participants how academic institutions can be engaged to turn neighborhoods around.


Workshop leaders: Matt Bergheiser, University City District; Seth Burdick, University City District; Mark Christman, University City District; Nate Hommel, University City District; Ryan Spak, University City District 


Mobile Session 4Turning Philadelphia’s Riverfront Brownfields into Community Amenities

Rivers are great anchors for developing community amenities, helping to create attractive places in which people want to live, work and play. Investing in improvements to vacant riverfront property can leverage added investments in residential development, industrial and commercial activity, tourism and recreation. Touring the Schuylkill River by bus and boat, you can view reclaimed brownfields that were once riverfront eyesores and are now important cultural and economic drivers for the area, including Bartram’s Garden, a historic property that has transformed underutilized land into a community farm and orchard within its landscape. Participants will experience a unique riverside view of the transformation of a long-vacant, brownfield waterfront property back to productive public space.


Workshop leaders: Mark Focht, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation; Maitreyi Roy, Bartram’s Gardens; Joseph Syrnick, Schuylkill River Development Corporation


Training Seminar 1 - In Your Hands: Digital Tools for Collecting and Interpreting Place-Based Data Room 120 C 

Executing an effective community development strategy is practically impossible without an accurate understanding of the current situation on the ground. In this hands-on workshop, leading civic technologists and urban planners will guide participants through a new approach to place-based data collection, analysis and data-driven decision-making using digital tools. Participants will gain first-hand experience collecting data about property conditions and neighborhood assets using their own mobile devices. The group will then work together to understand the implications of this information using a suite of visualization and analysis tools. Armed with these new skill sets, participants will brainstorm and share ideas about how these tools and strategies can be leveraged in their own communities to inform policy and planning decisions, facilitate effective resource-allocation, and improve the quality and value of their neighborhoods. 


Workshop leaders: Alex Pandel, Civic Insight; Alicia Rouault, LocalData; Prashant Singh, LocalData; Eddie Tejeda, Civic Insight


Training Seminar 2Maximizing Revenue for Local Governments: Evaluating Methods to Enforce Delinquent Property Taxes  Room 121 C

In an era of ever-dwindling financial resources, local governments are forced to make tough decisions affecting their most critical source of revenue: property taxes. This training will explore various methods of delinquent tax enforcement being utilized across the country such as private third-party tax lien servicing and tax lien sales. Reflecting on a recent analysis completed for the City of Rochester, New York, participants will learn more about the various frameworks for quantitative and qualitative analyses to consider how to maximize tax revenue to fund critical services and protect the quality of life for residents.


Workshop leaders: Frank Alexander, Center for Community Progress; Alma Balonon-Rosen, Enterprise Community Partners; Kim Graziani, Center for Community Progress; Eric Hangen, ISquared Community Development Consulting; Dan Kusic, TaxServ, LLC


Training Seminar 3Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Uniting Code Enforcement, Police, Prosecution and Courts to Improve Community Safety and Combat Blight Room 121 B

This interactive training session will explore how neighborhood residents and city departments acting collaboratively can achieve the joint goals of reducing crime and improving the quality of life in neighborhoods by addressing crime and code violations associated with vacant and abandoned properties. Participants will first dive into the concepts of community policing, community prosecution and community courts. Then, breaking into small groups in these topic areas, they will try to solve hypothetical problems using a limited set of facts and problem solving tools. Gradually these groups will come together and demonstrate how collaboration among city stakeholders creates a higher likelihood of permanently resolving neighborhood crime problems and blight. Participants will learn to see possible connections in their own communities to tackle these important issues.


Workshop leaders: Diane Gibson, City of Dallas; DJ Kelly, City of Dallas Police Department; Maureen Milligan, City of Dallas  Attorney’s Office; Juan Ramos, City of Dallas


AFTERNOON WORKSHOP (2:30 pm – 5:00 pm)


Mobile Session 5Big Green Block: Reclaiming Properties through Greening in Fishtown/Kensington

Fifteen years ago, the Fishtown/Kensington community of Philadelphia was littered with over 1,100 parcels of vacant land. Today, more than 75% of those parcels have been reclaimed and stabilized through efforts of the City’s Office of Housing and Community Development and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Green program – a program that has become a national model for addressing vacancy with green reuse. This session will visit the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) whose greening work has grown into a broader sustainability effort. NKCDC will demonstrate how its Sustainable 19125 initiative is engaging the community to become the greenest zip code in Philadelphia. Participants will also visit the capstone of this initiative: the Big Green Block – 9 acres of vacant land that’s been transformed into a $50 million multi-partner investment in green infrastructure.


Workshop leaders: Glen Abrams, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; Carla Castillo, New Kensington CDC; Sandy Salzman, New Kensington CDC


Mobile Session 6Vacancy to Vibrancy: Development in Eastern North Philadelphia

In 2000, two out of every three properties in the community served by the Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) were vacant buildings or lots. APM has directed the revitalization of the community by building 350 units of affordable housing, as well as Borinquen Plaza, which includes a major food market, a TruMark Credit Union, and a laundromat. More recently, APM has completed Sheridan Homes, 13 units of innovatively designed Gold LEED-certified affordable housing – a first for affordable housing in this area. Projects like the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s LandCare Program, which has transformed hundreds of parcels of vacant land, creating dozens of small park-like sites outfitted with grass, trees, and wood rail fences and “Paseo Verde,” a LEED certified transit oriented development project, have helped stabilize the neighborhood and improve quality of life for residents. Stops will also include the community-owned Liberty Lands Park which features cutting edge stormwater management design.


Workshop leaders: Andrew Frishkoff, Local Initiatives Support Corporation - Philadelphia; Rose Gray, APM; Keith Green, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; Randi Marmer, TruMark Financial Credit Union


Mobile Session 7Achieving the Double Bottom Line: Putting Vacant Properties Back to Commercial Use

Commercial uses for vacant property not only reclaim vacant properties and buildings but create economic opportunity in often disinvested neighborhoods. This tour visits three sites that are creating jobs and workforce development opportunities, including the People’s Emergency Center on Lancaster Avenue, the University City District on Baltimore Avenue, as well as The Enterprise Center CDC’s Center for Culinary Enterprises – a creative reuse of a former supermarket designed to be an engine for creating food related jobs and business. Participants will see firsthand how Philadelphia CDCs have unlocked the economic possibilities of vacant properties.


Workshop leaders: Mark Christman, University City District; Brian Fenstermaker, The Enterprise Center CDC; Nate Hommel, University City District; Ryan Spak, University City District; Kira Strong, People’s Emergency Center; Stephanie Wall, People’s Emergency Center; James White, People’s Emergency Center


Mobile Session 8­Vacant Land Strategies for Changing Markets

New investment in student and market rate housing is putting pressure on residents of Lower North Central Philadelphia, a neighborhood that has been hard-hit by years of economic erosion and disinvestment. Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia engaged residents and community leaders to find solutions for preserving permanent affordable housing and the result of their work is the consideration of a community land trust. Participants in this mobile tour will learn about the impact vacant land has in changing markets, and how community land trusts can be an effective tool for addressing both vacancy and affordability in communities where rents are increasing.


Workshop leaders: John Davis, Burlington Associates in Community Development; Jill Feldstein, Women’s Community Revitalization Project; Troy Hannigan, Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia; Mindy Watts, Interface Studio LLC


Training Seminar 4Tools You Can Use: Field-Tested Methods for Facilitating Equitable Redevelopment Room 120 C

This training session offers hands-on, how-to exercises on redeveloping vacant and underutilized land and creating more sustainable places for citizens to live, work and thrive. Practitioners from Groundwork USA will lead participants in small groups through three exercises designed to illustrate the processes of redeveloping property. The three exercises will address three distinct topics - brownfields, urban waters and equitable development – and will be supported by real case studies. The small groups will develop strategies to select sites, reach out to residents, fundraise and partner across sectors. Each topic has its own challenges and participants will be able to contribute their ideas as well as take away best practices and innovative solutions for their own communities.


Workshop leaders: Vernon Brinkley, Groundwork Hudson; Ann-Marie Mitroff, Groundwork Hudson; Kate O’Brien, Groundwork USA; Elizabeth Schilling, Smart Growth America 


Training Seminar 5Connecting Research to Practice: The Latest Progress in Vacant Property Research Room 121 A

A major challenge for the movement to reclaim vacant properties is assessing and comparing policy reforms across different cities. Policymakers and practitioners often do not have time and resources for research and program evaluations that will help to further inform their work and the work of others. Moreover, current academic research may not always be accessible or digestible to practitioners, and may not address the practical problems that communities encounter. Led by the Vacant Property Research Network, this workshop brings together researchers and practitioners to brainstorm strategies for connecting research and practice and begin shaping a research agenda for the field moving forward.


Workshop leaders: Robert Beauregard, Columbia University; Charles Branas, University of Pennsylvania; Margaret Dewar, University of Michigan; Bob Grossmann, Pennsylvania Horticultural Socity; Megan Heckert, Swarthmore College; Stephen Gasteyer, Michigan State University; Mary Beth Graebert, Michigan State University; Kevin Gillen, University of Pennsylvania; John Kromer, Consultant; Christina Rosan, Temple University; Joseph Schilling, Metropolitan Institute and Center for Community Progress;  Michael Schramm, Cuyahoga Land Bank; Susan Wachter, University of Pennsylvania


Training Seminar 6Land Banking 101: Everything You Wanted to Learn About Land Banking Room 121 C

A ground-level, introductory course on Land Banking, this session will offer participants an in-depth look at how to form, fund and operate a land bank, presented by the leading experts in America. This session will educate participants on how land banks are structured to conform to the political and market environments in which they are located along with a variety of ways to finance land bank operations and redevelopment projects. To help frame how the concepts in this session have been applied in communities across the country, representatives from several land banks will engage in a facilitated discussion with a moderator to answer questions from the audience.


Workshop leaders: Kim Graziani, Center for Community Progress; Christina Kelly, Genesee County Land Bank Authority; Katie Sabo, Office of County Commissioner Bridget Gainer; Alison Souther, Macon-Bibb County Land Bank Authority; Sara Toering, Center for Community Progress; Katelyn Wright, Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation 


Training Seminar 7Filling out the Tool Box: Market-Smart Approaches for Dealing with Vacant Houses Room 121 B

This training seminar offers an in-depth look at how communities can coordinate the tools at their disposal to make data-driven property intervention decisions in any neighborhood market. Using real estate market strength data as the basis for code enforcement and land banking strategies can help practitioners make smarter decisions and allocate their time and resources more effectively. Participants will learn market-smart approaches to dealing with vacant or tax delinquent properties through receivership, code enforcement and land banking.


Workshop leaders: Michael Braverman, Baltimore Housing; Ira Goldstein, The Reinvestment Fund; Jim Kelly, University of Notre Dame




CONCURRENT SESSION 1 (10:45 am – 12:15 pm)


A. Making the Case for Efficient, Effective and Equitable Tax Foreclosure Reform Room 120 A

Whether the goal is ensuring responsible control of vacant properties, ensuring that governments gain the upside as well as the downside of tax delinquencies, helping keep people in their homes or creating 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 the need for tax foreclosure reform, as well as the goals and challenges. 


Speakers: Thomas Ginsberg, Philadelphia Research Initiative of the Pew Charitable Trust; State Rep. Chris Ross, PA House of Representatives; Sara Toering, Center for Community Progress

B. Community Development Clusters: Building Investment Opportunities in Distressed Neighborhoods Room 122

 Even with major development anchors nearby, rehabilitating vacant properties in distressed neighborhoods where high vacancy rates, disinvested infrastructure, and crime hotspots make marketing homes to new buyers an uphill battle can be a costly and time consuming proposition for cities. Through Baltimore’s Vacants to Value initiative, the City has been able to unlock the hidden value in some of its most challenging neighborhoods by creating “Community Development Clusters” – partnerships between the City, developers, and anchor institutions to revitalize whole-block footprints. Join representatives from Baltimore to discuss ways their efforts have been able to create stable environments for investors and homebuyers and achieve measurable revitalization outcomes in these Clusters – and how participants can leverage similar resources and relationships in their communities.


Speakers: Michael Braverman, Baltimore Housing; Sean Closkey, The Reinvestment Fund Development Partners; Julie Day, Baltimore Housing; Salem Renier, Johns Hopkins University 


C. Scattered-Site Rentals to Further Neighborhood Stabilization Room 121 A

Communities with high foreclosure rates are experiencing a growing need for rental housing at the same time that they are faced with greater availability of single family homes, leading to an increasing number of properties being turned into rentals. This session will focus on the scattered site rental model and explore the role investors and nonprofits can play to achieve neighborhood stabilization and revitalization. Participants will learn about cutting-edge collaborations that meet the need for rental housing for particular constituencies.


Speakers: Heidi Coppola, The American Home; Rob Grossinger, Enterprise Community Partners; Alan Mallach, Center for Community Progress; Breann Gala, Metropolitan Planning Council 

D. Neighborhood Know-How for Property Maintenance Room 120 B

Property maintenance can be costly and require resources that municipalities and land banking entities alone don’t have the capacity to provide. In many cases, residents have proven to be powerful partners for increasing capacity to maintain vacant properties. This session will explore immediate solutions for neighborhood-based, large-scale vacant property maintenance, including successful models from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Atlanta, Georgia and Flint, Michigan. Over 6,000 vacant properties are maintained in Philadelphia each year through a cross-sector partnership between the City, a nonprofit, and neighborhood groups, while in Flint, neighborhood groups alone maintain more than 1,300 properties annually with support from the local land bank. This interactive session will break into small groups to more closely examine how each model has successfully identified resources, engaged residents and leveraged partnerships to maintain vacant properties.


Speakers: Bob Grossmann, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; Chris Norman; Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank; Natalie Pruett, Genesee County Land Bank Authority

E. Combating Blight Vacancy in Inner-Ring Suburbs Room 121 B

Blight, crime and all the problems associated with foreclosure and abandonment do not stop at the city limits. Inner-ring suburbs often face higher rates of foreclosure and vacancy than the older central cities they border. Leaders from these “First Suburb” communities will explore the creative ways local officials, CDCs and others have responded to the foreclosure crisis to stem the negative externalities of vacancy and work to reoccupy homes and restore their communities.


Speakers: Chris Krehmeyer, Beyond Housing; Kamla Lewis, City of Shaker Heights; Janice Morrissy, South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association; David Rusk, Innovative Housing Institute & Building One America

F. Turning Brownfields into Healthfields: Leveraging Vacancy to Address Underserved Residents Room 120 C

New partnerships between communities and health care providers are providing an alternative path to brownfield reuse in Florida, where populations that are chronically underserved with medical services live in areas with widespread vacancy. Successfully combining local redevelopment resources, state tax incentives, and a variety of federal grants - including brownfields grants, health services grants, and others - can result in much-needed services as well as a new anchor for social and economic activity. Practitioners and community leaders from Florida will describe the ins and outs of their work to turn brownfields into “Healthfields,” including how their focus on environmental justice facilitates community engagement, what types of state and local policies support their work, and how they have succeeded in bringing federal agencies together to leverage public investments for multiple benefits.


Speakers: Miles Ballogg, CardnoTBE; Ed Johnson, East Tampa Community Redevelopment Area; Kate O’Brien, Groundwork USA; Elizabeth Schilling, Smart Growth America 

G. Where’s the Inventory?  Accessing Distressed REO Properties in an Ever-Changing Market Room 121 C

Servicer and GSE REO inventories are shrinking. And yet, the numbers of deteriorated and vacant property in hard-hit markets across the nation are still very prevalent. Community housing providers are seeking to acquire, control, renovate and redeploy these properties in order to stabilize market values and community vitality. This workshop will explore the inventory of distressed assets, changing servicer preferences, and the new trends and approaches in the disposition of vacant real estate. Approaches to be discussed include REO First Look, property donations, short sales to community buyers, low value property deed-in-lieu, non-performing note sales, and more. Panelists will also discuss the implications of the private investor buying frenzy for these assets in our communities and what can be done to encourage a more holistic and scalable array of solutions from ownership to lease-purchase to rental.


Speakers: Tom Lin, Bank of America; John O’Callaghan, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership; Craig Nickerson, National Community Stabilization Trust; Matt Perrenod, Housing Partnership Network


CONCURRENT SESSION 2 (2:00 pm – 3:30 pm)


A. Creative Partnerships for New Municipal Approaches to Code Enforcement and Nuisance Abatement Room 122

Code enforcement and nuisance abatement actions can address a wide variety of problem properties, including distressed bank REO, investment properties being flipped and vacant commercial buildings. However, as cities around the nation face constrained resources, achieving meaningful results requires new ideas and innovative partnerships. This session will give participants the strategies they need to develop an effective code enforcement management system by analyzing budgets, personnel strategies and other case studies from cities across the country.


Speakers: Luke Elser, West Virginia University; Martin Howe, City of Clarksburg, WV; Doug Leeper, Code Enforcement Solutions; Nancy Prager, City of Wheeling, WV
B. Aligning Financial Institutions and Community Development Goals: Building Strategic Coalitions to Move a State-Level Vacant Property Revitalization Policy Agenda Room 120 A

Financial institutions and community development advocates share greater common interests in advancing vacant and abandoned properties redevelopment than it might first appear. Opportunities exist to build new relationships among these different interests with the goal of developing and advancing a redevelopment policy agenda that aligns the goals of both parties to benefit all. This session will compare coalition-building strategies in Ohio and Pennsylvania and discuss how to leverage relationships among the private, nonprofit and public sectors to generate a strategic advocacy agenda that addresses such issues as acquisition, demolition, extenuated foreclosure processes and other barriers to redevelopment. Participants will hear from both community development advocates and banking professionals about how to unite these “unusual bedfellows” to find common ground to align goals and fix policy.


Speakers: Lavea Brachman, Greater Ohio Policy Center; Paula Boggs Muething, Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority; Michael Griffin, KeyBank; Adam Gross, BPI; Liz Hersh, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania; Peg Moertle, PNC Bank

C. Transforming the Local Food System through Reclamation Room 121 C

Connecting food production and vacant land reuse has been an exciting, and often challenging, endeavor. But despite the difficulties local food growers must overcome, community gardens, market gardens and larger agriculture enterprises have contributed a significant amount of food to their communities. With a growing interest in food security, health, equity and land reuse, an increasing number of community and city leaders are exploring sustainable opportunities to transform the entire local food system, from production to processing, aggregation and distribution. This session brings together people connecting the dots between vacant property reuse and these stages of the food system. Be ready to dig deep into specific challenges and opportunities in small working groups. 


Speakers: Haile Johnston, Common Market Philadelphia; Jen Faigel, Urban Idea Lab; Kate O’Brien, Groundwork USA; Dwayne Wharton, The Food Trust
D. New Solutions for Brownfield Redevelopment Room 120 C

New solutions for brownfield problems are helping communities to reclaim long-standing vacant, blighted, and problem properties. In this session, experts will provide information on innovative approaches being implemented across the country including new applications of TIF to brownfields, licensing remediation professionals for expedited cleanup, liability reforms, brownfields land banks, and brownfields funding through Supplemental Environmental Projects. Participants will also be guided through an interactive exercise to rank obstacles to brownfield reclamation, review current programs and propose new solutions.


Speakers: Charlie Bartsch, US Environmental Protection Agency; Denise Brinley, TRC Solutions; Colleen Kokas, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection-Sustainability & Green Energy; Evans Paull, Redevelopment Economics 

E. The Price is Right: Contests as Legacy City Development Tools Room 120 A

Contestants, come on down to see how shifting the spotlight of incentives to a (more) public forum better mobilizes private resources! Communities across the country are using contests as a way to engage residents, incubate creativity, grab media attention and raise capital. With techniques ranging from online, crowd-sourced voting to analog, pen-and-paper tallies, and incentives ranging from $150 to $50,000, this session will showcase some of the most innovative and engaging contest models from Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia. Participants will leave with an understanding of the vision, objectives, projected budgets and outcomes of each contest along with the comparative bottlenecks and successes.


Speakers: [ALL PRESENTATIONSTed Balowski, Hatch Detroit; Erin Kelly, NextEnergy; David Lessinger, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority; Marcus  Presley, Women’s Community Revitalization Project 

 F. Learning from Detroit Future City: Vacant Land as a Springboard for Economic Growth and Environmental Management Strategies Room 120 B

The Detroit Future City project lays out a strategic framework for planning future economic growth, in part by leveraging the city’s inventory of over 60,000 vacant land parcels. Understood as an asset, rather than a problem, stakeholders set out looking at each parcel in the context of its existing surroundings and identifying ways in which each could be reused to further a specific future revitalization strategy. Participants will learn how the extensive and collaborative planning process that resulted in Detroit Future City created a framework for decision-making about blue/green reuse, disposition processes, and determining appropriate prospective buyers. The strategies and tools laid out in this session are readily replicable in any other city facing the same issues of an excess vacant land inventory.


Speakers: Dan Kinkead, Detroit Future City; Alan Mallach, Center for Community Progress; Scott Page, Interface Studio LLC

G. Building on Historic Assets Room 121 B

This session will explore how historic preservation can help shrinking cities and neighborhoods become more desirable and healthier places. Especially in smaller localities, cities need to harness the economic and cultural impact of historic buildings. Panelists will discuss why preservation should be included in any effort to address vacant properties and revitalize neighborhoods, broad strategies for integrating preservation into asset-based rightsizing, and practical tools (surveys, historic districts, tax credits) and potential partnerships that audience members can use in their work.


Speakers: Michael Allen, Preservation Research Office; Cara Bertron, PlaceEconomics; Emilie Evans, National Trust for Historic Preservation and Michigan Historic Preservation Network; Brad White, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation 


CONCURRENT SESSION 3 (4:00 pm – 5:30 pm)


A. What a Long, Strange Trip it Has Been: The Evolution of Land Banking Through the Years Room 120 A

This session will examine and reflect on the lessons learned from over forty years of land banking in America. Leading experts and practitioners in the field will unpack the various generations of state and local statutes that provide a framework for land banks to operate. Hear firsthand how land banks are achieving their local land use goals through an expanding set of legal tools, intergovernmental and regional collaboration and self-financing mechanisms.


Speakers: Frank Alexander, Center for Community Progress; Gus Frangos, Cuyahoga Land Bank; Christina Kelly, Genesee County Land Bank Authority; Chris Norman, Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank

B. Restoring Demand: Neighborhood Branding and Marketing Strategies Room 121 A

Creating vibrant neighborhoods requires more than simply restoring the brick and mortar of housing stock. Branding and marketing strategies effectively highlight the amenities, character and values that make neighborhoods great places to live, visit and do business. This session offers an overview of why community branding and marketing is essential for revitalization efforts by creating positive perceptions about neighborhoods, building confidence in the future of communities, engaging residents, increasing investment by current and future residents, businesses and stakeholders, and supporting new development. During this session, representatives from La Casa De Don Pedro in Newark, NJ and St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society in Camden, NJ will share their firsthand experience of the NeighborWorks America Neighborhood Marketing Program. The panelists will also offer participants specific marketing tools and templates to support their own neighborhood branding and marketing efforts.


Speakers: Tracy Gosson, Sagesse, Inc; Alle Reis, La Casa de Don Pedro; Paul Singh, NeighborWorks America; Felix Torres-Colon, Saint Joseph’s Carpenter Society

C. Using Comprehensive Data to Achieve Strategic Goals in your Community Room 122

Communities tackling vacant properties are confronting the technical and political problem of building and maintaining vacant property inventories and databases. How cities collect and use vacant property data shapes their ability to implement programs, leverage other resources, monitor the conditions of neighborhoods and evaluate program success. This interactive session will explore strategies for vacant property data collection, inventory database creation, and cross-agency collaboration. Representatives from Indianapolis, Louisville and Atlanta will be present to discuss their respective efforts. 


Speakers: Chris Harrell, Lazarus LLC; Lauren Heberle, University of Louisville and Center for Environmental Policy and Management, Terri Lee, City of Atlanta, Georgia Department of Planning and Community Development; Rodney Milton,
City of Atlanta, Georgia Department of Planning and Community Development


D. Small-Scale Stormwater Management in Discontinuous Lots Room 121 B

 Stormwater management is becoming an effective use for vacant land, but unfortunately a majority of vacant urban lots are located in neighborhoods with gap-toothed vacancy, where small, discontinuous parcels are interspersed with occupied houses and businesses. While the nature of gap-toothed vacancy presents a challenge to green infrastructure installations, it also creates a unique opportunity for achieving triple-bottom-line benefits where investment can lead to simultaneous outcomes in ecological function, neighborhood stabilization, and human health. This session will explore projects in Gary, IN, Cleveland, OH, and Buffalo, NY that seek to maximize ecological, social, and economic benefits through small, clustered green infrastructure installations in urban neighborhoods. Participants will explore cutting-edge methodologies for ecological restoration and community engagement on small, dispersed properties in high-vacancy neighborhoods and learn about alternative measurements of potential social, economic and ecological benefits. 


Speakers: Sandra Albro, Cleveland Botanical Garden; Jennifer Kaminsky, PUSH Buffalo/Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Co.; Olivia Green, US EPA; Lauren Riga, City of Gary

E. Organizing Statewide for Local Results Room 120 C

For the past two years, the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey has been leading a layered problem property initiative, working with local governments and nonprofit community development corporations to mount effective, targeted strategies that give communities the tools and support to reclaim vacant properties. The Network’s approach has integrated technical assistance, training, capacity building and policy development, leading to major changes in practice and outcomes at the local level, while building a statewide learning network of political leaders and practitioners committed to addressing problem property issues. Join in a roundtable discussion with major stakeholders in this initiative as they discuss how a statewide approach helped foster change on the ground.


Speakers: Staci Berger, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey; Manuel Delgado, Cramer Hill Community Development Corporation; Michael Meyer, City of Newark; Diane Sterner, New Jersey Community Capital; Darice Toon, City of Jersey City

F. Partnering With Police Departments in Commercial Corridors Room 121 C

Community safety is central to any discussion about vacant properties as study after study shows the correlation between crime and vacancy. It is vital that police departments are engaged and playing an active role in creating strategies to address vacancy. Hear from representatives from Paducah, KY, Brooklyn, NY and Seattle, WA who, in collaboration with police departments, have developed strategic revitalization programs that resulted in significant reductions in crime and improvements in economic vitality. During this session, attendees will gain exposure to innovative strategies to revitalize commercial corridors and improve safety while exploring how to bring police departments, business owners and other stakeholders to the table to catalyze such programs.


Speakers: [Paducah PresentationJames Berry, City of Paducah Police Department; Nic Li, Seattle Chinatown International Preservation and Development Authority; Steve Ervin, City of Paducah, KY; Phillip Kellogg, Fulton Area Business Alliance; Mona Mangat, Local Initiatives Support Corporation

G. Reactivating Urban Industrial Sites for 21st Century Production & Goods Movement Room 120 B

Today, supply chain, technological and energy trends are redefining the calculus and constraints of both global industrial activities and urban development.  American cities are increasingly vital nerve centers for regional and global supply chains and value-added manufacturing and processing, which continue to support economic inclusion and sustainable, inclusive growth.  Urban physical transformation is needed to ensure manufacturing retention and growth, including upgraded building stock and surface transportation infrastructure.  Some cities have been developing strategies to reactivate industrial sites to meet modern production and logistics demands and create job-generating opportunities.  This session will explore relevant case studies from Newark (N.J.) and Atlanta.  Special attention will be given to the role of mission-driven partnerships in supporting industrial transformation and opportunities around urban port and airport complexes.    


Speakers: Stephen Kehayes, Brick City Development Corporation; Nancey Green Leigh, Georgia Institute of Technology; Nisha Mistry, Brookings Institution



CONCURRENT SESSION 4 (9:00 am – 10:30 am)


A. Using Data and Technology to Prioritize Demolition Room 120 A

Demolitions play an important role in clearing out dangerous, unsafe buildings. But with shrinking budgets for property maintenance projects, how do cities decide what buildings should come down? The City of Cleveland has developed an innovative approach to prioritizing what structures will serve the city best as a whole by being demolished. Participants will learn how Cleveland uses a multi-factor screening process, utilizing data collection and technology to prioritize demolitions in communities with a high-volume stock of condemned structures. 


Speakers: [ALL PRESENTATIONSTimothy Kobie, Strong Cities, Strong Communities Fellowship; Ron O’Leary, City of Cleveland; Thomas Vanover, City of Cleveland

B. The Tipping Point: Stabilizing Middle Neighborhoods Room 120 B

“Middle Neighborhoods” are areas in Legacy Cities that are relatively stable but could easily tip into decline through vacancy and blight, driving down property values and starting a downward spiral that too many communities have experienced. The ability to proactively prevent housing vacancies in these neighborhoods hinges on changes to federal policy and regulations that would facilitate improvement. Representatives from Healthy Neighborhood, Inc. in Baltimore and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation will discuss cost-effective programs to prevent vacancy as well as the political change it would take to help communities not just be reactive, but proactive in stabilizing middle neighborhoods before they reach the tipping point.

Speakers: David Boehlke, czb Planning; Paul Brophy, Center for Community Progress; Darlene Russell, Greater Milwaukee Foundation; Mark Sissman, Healthy Neighborhoods


C. Comprehensive Community Development: The Changing Role of the CDC in Neighborhood Revitalization Room 122

The complex problems facing neighborhoods riddled with vacancy also often require complex, multi-faceted solutions. Community development corporations need to move beyond a traditional focus on physical development and take on a more comprehensive approach to enhancing the lives of community residents by improving the places in which they live. By addressing the challenges of vacancy holistically, community development corporations have the opportunity to reweave the social fabric, rebuild social and civic capital, provide pathways out of poverty and reconnect residents to the broader regional economy. Participants will hear from professionals who have been able to broaden the scope of the community development system and connect residents to education, health and economic opportunities both within and across neighborhoods and the region.


Speakers: Michael Fleming, St Clair Superior Development Corporation; Kathryn Hexter, Cleveland State University; Joe Kreisberg, Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations; Majeeda Rashid, Nicetown CDC 

D. Using Blight to Make it Right: How Communities Can Influence Land Control to Create the Development They Want Room 121 A

Sometimes it feels as though the real estate market offers two polar options: neighborhoods that are completely disinvested or ones that are gentrified and serve higher income residents. What are options for neighborhoods that want to see revitalization, but not at the expense of low-income residents? Representatives from three strong community organizations in Boston, Philadelphia and New Orleans, each working to reclaim land for community-driven development, will discuss best practices and lessons learned in three critical areas: engaging residents in community planning, particularly around vacant land, creating tools and structures to support community investments, and organizing to connect neighborhood concerns to policy solutions at the city and state level. Participants will learn how to influence land use with the overall goal of promoting development without displacement.


Speakers: Jill Feldstein, Women’s Community Revitalization Project; Jerry Maldonado, The Ford Foundation; Harry Smith, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative; Michelle Thompson, WhoData.org/University of New Orleans

E. More Green, Less Crime: Making the Case for Greening to Improve Health and Safety Room 121 B

During tough economic times, cities can use relatively simple and low-cost greening land care interventions to reduce crime and enhance community health. This session will explore how government, community and universities can collaborate to guide such interventions. Join Dr. Branas from the University of Pennsylvania, representatives from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and members of the community as they discuss how academic research can quantify the value of urban greening programs and justify the investment in various vacant land stabilization strategies. Walk away with an understanding of how similar collaborations can be created in your city. 

Speakers: Dr. Charles Branas, University of Pennsylvania; Bob Grossmann, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; Deborah McColloch, Philadelphia Office of Housing and Community Development; Alia Walker, Earth’s Keepers, Inc.


F. LaSalle Placemakers: An Innovative Pop-Up Partnership in New Orleans Room 121 C

Temporary uses of vacant properties are providing long term economic possibilities in New Orleans. “Pop-up” retail, parks, performance venues, art installations, and more, set up in vacant lots, are reactivating distressed urban blocks and creating lively corridors. They offer low-risk, low-cost opportunities for micro-entrepreneurs, fresh spaces for artistic expression and interesting, safe public spaces. Speakers will present the partnership between Harmony Neighborhood Development and Tulane University’s School of Architecture and Social Innovation/Social Enterprise program to animate a vacant commercial site in an historic neighborhood in New Orleans’ Central City. Once the center of African American life, commerce and culture, 40% of Central City’s houses are vacant today and almost half of resident households have incomes below $20,000. Speakers will demonstrate how well-designed temporary installations and programs can create the social and economic energy to address blight by attracting tenants, growing retail demand and creating micro opportunities.


Speakers: [ALL PRESENTATIONSUna Anderson, Harmony Neighborhood Development; Maurice Cox, Tulane University School of Architecture; Jeffrey Hebert, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority; Byron Mouton, Tulane University School of Architecture


G. What is the Life Cycle of a Loan in Default? Room 120 C

Many communities across the country have suffered from the recent mortgage foreclosure crisis - from homeowners completely underwater on their homes to families unable to meet their monthly mortgage obligations and faced with foreclosure. This session will explore the life cycle of a loan in default and what the roles and responsibilities are for the various stakeholders involved – including investors, servicers, mortgagors, and trustees – and how their roles are affecting the communities in which we live, work and play.


Speakers: Bob Caruso, Lender Processing Systems; Toni Dima, Wells Fargo; Sarah Mancini, Atlanta Legal Aid Society; Jim Taylor, Wells Fargo; Tyler Smith, Wells Fargo; Mike Schlerf, Wells Fargo


CONCURRENT SESSION 5 (11:00 am -12:30 pm)


A. The Slavic Village Approach: Targeting Resources to Redevelop Neighborhoods Hit Hard by the Foreclosure Crisis Room 120 A

Like many communities that were hit hard by the foreclosure crisis, Slavic Village in southeast Cleveland has experienced widespread vacancy leading to plummeting property values. To restore the vibrancy that this neighborhood once experienced, partners came together to target resources and align expertise to make it an attractive, healthy neighborhood for residents again. Together with Safeguard Properties, Neighborhood Progress, Inc. and a real estate developer, Slavic Village Development is analyzing data and looking for opportunities from mortgage servicers as well as offering current residents technical assistance and low-interest loans to improve their properties and maintain home ownership.

Speakers: [PRESENTATIONTony Brancatelli, Cleveland City Council; Robert Klein, Safeguard Properties; Joel Ratner, Neighborhood Progress, Inc.; Tyler Smith, Wells Fargo 

B. Picking Up the Pieces: Responding to Vacancy Caused by Disaster Room 121 A

Recent memory provides many examples of natural and human-made disasters that have displaced populations and created harsh scenarios of immediate and indefinite vacancy. These traumatic events hit previously distressed neighborhoods especially hard, making an already long road to recovery even tougher. Learn from those who have weathered the storms and are leveraging resources to put the pieces of their communities back together in the face of large demographic shifts and vacancy.

Speakers: [ALL PRESENTATIONSGrant Johnson, Capital Access; Jeremey Newberg, Capital Access

C. Planning for Success: Incorporating Vacant Property Strategies into Neighborhood Plans Room 122

Active, grassroots groups that are willing to be creative and venture into unchartered territory are essential for communities working to reclaim vacant properties. Learn from two innovative groups in Durham, NC and Wilmington, DE that have incorporated vacant property strategies into neighborhood plans to fight blight and increase investment in their communities. Panelists will showcase successes and challenges of working in disinvested neighborhoods to unite partners, reform policy, and implement redevelopment strategies on the neighborhood level.

Speakers: Paul Calistro, Cornerstone West CDC; Dan Levine, Self-Help; Victoria Phillips, Southwest Central Durham Quality of Life Project; Mayme Webb-Bledsoe, Duke University; Christian Willauer, Cornerstone West CDC

D. Green and Blue Infrastructure: Citywide Plans for Investing in Vacant Properties for Stormwater Management Room 121 B

Stormwater management provides a unique opportunity for cities to reclaim and revitalize vacant lots on a large scale, providing community greening benefits while encouraging redevelopment. Green infrastructure that diverts rainwater to green spaces where it can infiltrate back into the soil, replenishing the aquifer and reducing pollution to the region’s rivers and streams, is a vital tool for creating healthy communities. Likewise, investment in green infrastructure on a vacant lot can serve as an incentive for partners to contribute funding to develop new community spaces. Representatives from Philadelphia and Detroit will make the case for stormwater management on vacant lots as a key component in any city plan. Participants will learn about Philadelphia’s nationally renowned Green City, Clean Waters program, which combines a $1.2 billion investment in public capital green infrastructure projects, regulation of private development and a parcel-based stormwater billing program to reduce citywide sewer overflows. Representatives from Detroit will discuss Detroit Future City’s innovative plans to develop swales, stormwater boulevards, retention ponds, detention basins, and rubblized roads.

Speakers: Jessica Noon, Philadelphia Water Department; Beth Miller, Community Design Collaborative; Elizabeth Svekla, Philadelphia Water Department; Amy Mangus, SEMCOG

E. Innovations in Federal Revitalization Efforts Room 121 C

In its first term, the Obama Administration made significant investments in helping neighborhoods, communities and regions plan for and invest in their visions for economic growth. Agency officials will provide an update on signature first-term investments, lessons from this work, and a discussion of second term priorities related to neighborhood revitalization, economic development, land use and green infrastructure investments, among other topics.


Speakers: Erich Caulfield, White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities; Julie Dietrich, Widener University; Salin Greevarghese, US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development; Mark Linton, White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities; Eric Robertson, Community LIFT


F. Judicial versus Non-Judicial Foreclosure: The Impact on Rebuilding Communities Room 120 C

Many cities have found that a large number of their problem properties are in foreclosure or owned by banks. This is particularly true in judicial foreclosure states like New Jersey, Ohio or Florida, where the process from initial foreclosure filing to foreclosure sale and transfer of title to the lender can take two years or more. Join session panelists as they highlight the opportunities and challenges of rebuilding communities through judicial and non-judicial foreclosure processes and walk away with a deeper understanding of how these models help or detract from achieving healthy and stable communities.


Speakers: Caren Castle, Caste Law Group, LLC; Rosemary Diamond, Phelan Hallinan and Diamond, PC; Richard Peach, New York Federal Reserve Bank; Lee Perres,Pierce and Associates, PC; Jim Taylor, Wells Fargo; Erica Green, Wells Fargo