Vacant-Property Policy And Practice: Baltimore And Philadelphia

John Kromer

Both Baltimore and Philadelphia are classic examples of cities in which vacant land and buildings are visible manifestations of enduring economic disinvestment and decline. While improvements in both cities’ downtowns have attracted more visitors during the past decade and have generated high-end residential development in or near the downtown areas, conditions of blight and deterioration in many neighborhoods have worsened during this period. In response, the new mayors in both cities have committed to change local government policy and programming related to vacant-property acquisition, conveyance, and development. This paper reports on extensive case studies of Baltimore and Philadelphia, conducted through research, interviews, and local discussion panels. It provides an in-depth review of local policies and practices regarding vacant properties that might help urban leaders respond to this complex issue.