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Thread: Residential redevelopment in small towns

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Residential redevelopment in small towns

    I know this is an issue in many small towns (and larger ones too no doubt). We have 20-30 houses that should be razed. Of course, you are looking at $7,000-$10,000 a house to take down. The city never really recoups its money. The best it can hope for is a new house on the lot that pays property tax. Still, we hear people wondering where new housing would be available and it seems to me since we already have the street, water and sewer there it makes a lot more sense. Has anyone done a systematic program that redevelops like that?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Older lots are not configured for today's development tastes. It can work if you take an entire block face and replat. After the Greensburg storm most all rebuilders bought 2 or 3 fifty foot lots.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    I realize that the lot sizes present problems sometimes.

    This has to be a problem in towns all over the Midwest and Northeast. I realize that it costs money. But compare that to building new infrastructure for subdivisions and spreading out road use tax funds even further. You can change codes to allow for smaller lots or consolidate lots. Either one works.

    Or just let houses cave in and deal with them one at a time?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    One problem in smaller cities (say, Jamestown, NY with its 30,000 residents), and possibly in some smaller munis, is that most decrepit homes ready to meet their ends tend to be located in older, undesirable neighborhoods or on undesirable sites. Nobody is going to want to build a new home in a neighborhood surrounded by ramshackle multiple dwellings rented by people with drug and alcohol problems. They aren't going to want to build on a steep slope or next door to a loud and/or smelly industrial site like an oil refinery or across a street from a rowdy bar well known for loud music, fist fights, and the occasional shooting, either.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

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    Cyburbian Plus dvdneal's avatar
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    Sadly my town doesn't seem to do a lot for redevelopment. They prefer to see something new and shiny. I think there are some programs in the housing department that might be HUD funded to help rehab old houses, but I'm no expert on that stuff. They seem to help one house at time rather than demolish a block. I would say if the city has somehow acquired the property already then demo the houses and plat it for something new that would interest a developer or create some kind of affordable housing project that helps people.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Its probably best to re-develop by the block so if you need to re-plat at all you can get that done.

    Its hard for me to sit back and just look at these places day after day. The fact that people live in some of them makes it even worse.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Not a small town, but in Saint Paul they tore down a school and platted lots for new houses. Here is an aerial of the area. You'll notice the houses are typical narrow frontage city lots and they built an alley. This would be ideal for your community if you have an alley.

    Where I am all the houses that need to be torn down are in questionable neighborhoods and no one but slum lords would ever build something on them. We actually have quite a few old ornante victorian homes next to bland multi-family boxes. It throws the whole street scape off.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    I think its better to leave an open lot than force re-building right away. There is nothing wrong with tightening low end rental supply.

    I am forming a program in my head. Right now I am thinking of just getting them down and the market and demand dictate infill. I think the key is that you have to do it by the block, not by the lot.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    There are many home designs that will fit nicely on infill lots. A couple options for you:

    1) Idenitfy the redevelopment opportunities, whether for significant rehab or redevelopment. Identify suitable building plans (targeted to the buyer demographic) for infill lots and make them available to potential buyers or developers. Assist them in the approval process, since many may have never gone through it before.
    2) Create a public-private development company. Acquire, scrape, and land bank the lots. Build new housing. Leverage grants, TIF, and other sources.
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Its just a part of the puzzle. I am going to make a move on trying to get the council to adopt a rental code as well. That will likely be a tough go. I get sick of seeing someone with money milk low end houses until they are about shot and then pawn them off on contract to someone and it eventually becomes a city problem. 10K on the backs of property taxpayers.

    I feel like I have to fight the good fight.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Doberman's avatar
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    The only think I have seen locally is when I worked for the city. The council/MPO/City Planners devised this land bank program that gave the city the power to take over tax delinquent lots and grant them to adjacent property owners if they agree to pay the property taxes and maintain the property to code. Adjacent owners got first priority, then people in the neighborhood, then outside purchasers pending the approval of the neighborhood. This may only work in urban settings, and seems to be a better solution if you have low demand and high supply of housing in your city.

    http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/...6/post_27.html

  12. #12
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hawkeye66 View post
    I know this is an issue in many small towns (and larger ones too no doubt). We have 20-30 houses that should be razed. Of course, you are looking at $7,000-$10,000 a house to take down. The city never really recoups its money. The best it can hope for is a new house on the lot that pays property tax. Still, we hear people wondering where new housing would be available and it seems to me since we already have the street, water and sewer there it makes a lot more sense. Has anyone done a systematic program that redevelops like that?
    We have about 60,000 to take down. Maybe you can get some inspiration from our plan?
    http://detroitfuturecity.com/framework/
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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