"Estimates vary, but foreclosure listing company RealtyTrac approximated 261,255 homes in foreclosure in May of this year, almost double the number in May 2007. The Brookings Institution estimates that vacant and abandoned properties of all kinds- whether from foreclosure or not-occupy about 15 percent of a typical large city, an average of 12,000 acres."
"'The first wave [of abandoned properties due to foreclosure] has probably landed, but if we use the tsunami metaphor, it's the second and third waves that are larger and more dangerous,' says Joe Schilling, professor of urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech's Alexandria Center."
"The best way to fight the tide, he says, is for each community and neighborhood to develop its own strategy based on the local economy and housing market. Schilling recommends that the redevelopment of large numbers of abandoned buildings happen in three phases. First, cities must stabilize neighborhoods by either demolishing vacant properties or acquiring them for redevelopment. Next, officials must establish a plan that focuses on how to reclaim vacant properties at the neighborhood level. Finally, cities must offer incentives-perks such as tax credits or expedited permitting-in order to lure back private developers and investors who would otherwise be disinterested."
"Developer identified five cities that are putting such forward-thinking plans into action. These governments are working with the real estate community to turn around abandoned sites-and offering incentives to entice developers to enter these troubled and neglected neighborhoods."
The five cities: