Urban Fold

Vacant Buildings: Renovate, Demolish, or Disguise?

To battle blight caused by the plague of vacant properties left by declining populations and the Great Recession, cities and property owners are resorting to some sly tactics.

"Among the more pernicious holdovers of the recession and real-estate bust are the scores of vacant homes blighting neighborhoods across the country," notes Conor Dougherty. "These homes—easily identified by boarded-up windows and doors—pull down property values and attract looters scavenging for copper pipe and other scrap."

While many cities are demolishing vacant properties, and others are repairing them, those looking for a more economical solution are disguising them with paint, decals, decorations, and simulated materials. 

Companies such as Home Illusions, "which prints life-size decals of oak front doors and curtained windows that can be pasted over plywood", and SecureView, which seals windows with "a clear plastic material that looks like glass but they say is tougher than wood", are responding to the growing market for the "Potemkin village approach".

Full Story: Decorative Details Disguise Boarded-Up Houses

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