The small South Baltimore neighborhood of Wagner's Point before and after it was purchased by the city and razed. (Photos courtesy of Urbanite)Genesee County Land Bank Chief Executive Dan Kildee has become the Pied Piper of the shrinking city movement. Michael Anft of Urbanite magazine considers if the approach would work in Baltimore and examines Flint in the process:
Desperate, a handful of cities have chosen to deal with the unpaid taxes and headaches that come with forgotten properties by getting rid of them. They’ve bulldozed thousands of homes, shrinking their “footprint” and saving the money it costs to provide roads, schools, sewers, water, and other services to neighborhoods with only a sprinkling of people left. By selling off valuable land in Flint, Genesee County has raised $6 million, using the money to raze a thousand homes and convert entire blocks into pocket parks and gardens.Go here for the entire story.
Flint can count among its recent victories dozens of urban open spaces and some neighborhoods where home values are actually rising—a departure from a slow, torturous decline since the 1980s. Large-scale developments remain elusive, but Kildee says there’s more than a glint of hope. In north Flint, the Genesee County Land Bank bought abandoned properties, cleared them, and sold them to a developer. The result: twenty-four units of new, affordable housing. “These aren’t big numbers,” he says. “But seeing new construction in Flint and seeing the market respond—that’s quite an accomplishment.”