Friday, September 24, 2010

Loved by the spirit world

The scene above is a reminder that Halloween night is right around the corner. Time to start planning those yard decorations and scary sound effects!

The scene below is even scarier. With evidence of serious deferred maintenance, the building in the photograph is in precarious condition.

What do these two scenes have in common? One of them is already in the inventory of abandoned city properties and the other is close. Abandoned properties are held in trust by the City's Land Reutilization Authority, or "LRA" for short.

Which one do you think it is? Most would assume the derelict building, but in this case, it's the cemetery that has ended up in city hands.

How could a cemetery end up in the city's LRA? For abandonment by its owners. And what about the building with the rear wall near collapse? The answer will likely be the same.

Once an owner abandons its real estate, taxes and other expenses of ownership aren't paid, and it eventually ends up in the hands of the city. The process takes years. In many cases the buildings deteriorate to the point where they are demolished at the city's expense.

It's a slow, unfortunate process, filled with dread and loss. The subject of property abandonment presents many challenges and there are no easy answers. The problems leading to abandonment were years in the making, and whatever the strategy, will require lots of resource to solve.

Abandoned properties cross over into a sort of nether world. Most people in the real world have turned their backs on them. The properties go unsold at tax sales. We most want for something better, but there is little good expected.

Scary houses on Halloween are with us only one night a year. Unfortunately, the inventory of abandoned properties is with us day after day, month after month, and year after year.

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