Friday, November 14, 2008

War, er, "neighborhood revitalization"

Turning around a neighborhood is no easy task, but not impossible! Having done this myself numerous times and acting as a consultant to neighborhood and community groups trying to achieve the same goal, it can be a complex, sometimes nerve wrecking dance, of city agencies, law enforcement and concerned neighborhoods all fighting the "enemy".
The 'enemy' of course are the "slumlords" those who think its "OK" to convert single family homes into 3-5 apartments without permits, that allow trash and debris and abandoned inoperable cars to "accumulate".
To be effective you need organization (which have set up) and a gameplan ( being developed). Part of development of that "game plan" is an inventory of the "good" vs the bad and the indifferent. The 'good' of course are those residents who really care, usually the ones who have lived in the neighborhood for years and new Urban pioneers willing to take a chance. Fortunately for us we have good core group of about 12 properties and 10 people who really care about turning the corner on the neighborhood. Fortunately the "bad" are only a few and despite how 'smart' they think they are these people stand out like a sore thumb. They don't like scruitiny and when you shine a light on them they tend to move and go somewhere else where they can "do what they do" without interference". The indifferent are those that will likely sell out. Investors who, when they actually have to maintain their properties, will sell out, take their money and move to easier "less regulated" neighborhoods. They aren't bad people , they just don't want to go that "extra mile". They will be the first however to "kick themeselves" when the neighborhood turns around and they realize how much money they could have made if they had been a part of the turnaround.
What helps us is that we have that "core group" of people. Our next step will be to bring the city "on board".
We have identified "Possibilities". Homes that are vacant or under city demolition orders: Note: the two places that the city has demo orders on and are on the list, are in NO WAY in need of demolition. Key will be in working with the city to acquire and stabilize these properties as they can both be first class historic housing with a reasonable investment of time and energy.
Neighborhoods look a lot like a Monopoly game at this stage.


WestEnder said...

I hear you on the indifferent owners. I can't believe how many people buy rental properties thinking it will be a hassle-free way to make money. They have no real interest in the neighborhood per se and seem surprised and frustrated to learn that there are business costs associated with it, as there would be for any enterprise.

Paul Wilham said...

They are even more surprised when they learn they actually are supposed to maintain their property.

I never understod the mentality of taking perfectly good houses and dividing them up. Far better to do a quality restoration and rent it,or sell it,for top dollar. As my dad often said "If you are going to do anything, far better to do it right and for the 'Rich' as they are the only ones who can afford, and appreciate it,anyway!"