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National vacant land conference comes to Philly

Philadelphia's vacant land has been one of the most debated public policy issues of recent years. And for good reason -- the city is losing millions every year in maintenance costs, delinquint taxes and decreased adjacent property values. The problem is so big that the Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference is in town through September 11, shedding some light on the conundrum and examining innovative solutions.  
 
Put together by the Center for Community Progress, the conference is drawing upwards of 800 public and private sector experts in land banking, tax foreclosure, code enforcement and urban planning from around the country.
 
"Over the past two years, Philadelphia has taken several strategic and significant steps toward addressing its long-standing vacant property issues," explained John Carpenter, Deputy Executive Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and co-chair of the conference local planning committee in a press release. "The Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference is our opportunity to share our successes with other cities while also learning from their achievements."
 
One of the most important steps for Philadelphia is creating a city-wide land bank. It will allow the city to clear liens and other claims, and acquire group parcels in a strategic manner in an effort to facilitate development opportunities.

"Mayor Nutter and Council are committed to adding a land bank to the tools for addressing our vacant property system," said Rick Sauer, executive director of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, in a press release. "The many Philadelphia advocates who support a land bank are excited to exchange ideas and strategies with their colleagues from across the country to make that goal a reality."
 
The conference will feature 50 sessions on topics such as land banking, tax foreclosure, brownfields, code enforcement, market-smart revitalization, data and technology innovations, green infrastructure and green reuse strategies.
 
Source:  John Carpenter, Deputy Executive Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority; Rick Sauer, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations
WriterGreg Meckstroth
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