Vacancy Busting: A Step by Step Guide



July 9, 2021

The House That Clyde Built

Our new house found us, we didn’t find it. Which came as quite a surprise, as typically inanimate objects, much like my sons, struggle to locate ANYTHING.  Amber and I moved
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June 11, 2021

My Best Place

The best place I know, is fortunately, right in front of my house. I am writing this blog from that place, or should I say, from this place, considering it
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May 20, 2021

The Urge to Serve

This week, my feeds were filled with both good news and bad, stemming from Tuesday’s elections. I was ecstatic to see some colleagues, friends and supporters, win hard fought victories.
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May 5, 2021

Bringin’ Fancy Back

I am asking you for a favor- a big one- but it’s not too much and it’s not too hard. You might even enjoy it. But don’t do it for
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April 30, 2021

Hometown Here or Main Street Martyr

When you hang your apathy fighting cape in the closet at the end of the night, do you feel like you are in this battle all alone? Do you fee
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April 22, 2021

Damn it, Do it!

Idle hands are the devils play things, so the saying goes. We know what this means for a person- nothing good comes from boredom, and like I regularly rant about-
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April 15, 2021

It’s Okay to Hate Cars

“Why can’t we have this at home?” Amber asked me as we criss-crossed Royal Street in the French Quarter. Royal isn’t closed to cars, but traffic is slow enough and
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April 8, 2021

Let’s Get Civic

Erica picks up litter as she walks her dog around the neighborhood. She lives in a duplex a couple of blocks off of Main Street and she always keeps her
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March 31, 2021

There Goes the Neighborhood

2.7 miles. That is the approximate distance of the walk I take every day, with Leon, my fluffy companion. I have a particular route I prefer, because... It is flat
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March 16, 2021

There is a Hole in My Neighborhood

There is a hole in my neighborhood.  Where once there was something, now there is something missing.  The place we used to go is still there, but we no longer
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March 10, 2021

A Mantra Problem

The Main Street world has its mantras. These are the cliches we fall back on, to explain away the way things are. Easy go-to phrases that allow us to make
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March 4, 2021

Pulled Apart

“This Rural Liberal Sets Out to Talk to His Pro-Trump Neighbors” was the title of the article my mother passed along. In the piece, the author attempted to connect with
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February 24, 2021

Vacancy Busting: A Step by Step Guide

I can sometimes get bogged down in the policies of vacancy. I get pretty excited about design standards, code enforcement and vacant property registries. I love reading about new methods
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Gentle Density, Sprawl Enemy

As I was walking Leon this weekend, I recalled a chapter in the book Happy City by Charles Montgomery about density. He writes about a density sweet spot that fosters
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Why We Must Maintain

Here is what you have to remember, everything in life requires maintenance. Everything must be tended to. The car in our driveway has to have an oil change and new
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Peoria On My Mind

At a workshop in Peoria last March, an attendee told me that the city has more than doubled in land area since 1930, yet the number of people living there
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My Father’s House

I followed the trail my fathers finger made as he pointed through the windshield towards an old blue house. This is what we had come to see, the next stop
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Every Little Bit

We avoided the project long enough. No good reason for it either. Just something that wasn’t a priority, or easy enough to ignore. On the other hand, every time I
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Pride in Action

“This is great, but how does it really work” is a pretty common refrain I hear during workshops and presentations. “Hey pal, your ideas are nice and all, but it’s
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The George Bailey Effect

Like a lot of you, I watched It's a Wonderful Life over the holiday break. I probably watch it every year and each time I am amazed at how relevant
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Shutdown Politics

Last night my wife played me a clip of a local business owner of Fox News being interviewed about his reaction to the most recent restaurant shutdown here in Pennsylvania.
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February 23, 2021

What’s the Matter with Jamestown?

On August 1st, 2018, Jamestown, New York celebrated a monumental event. The Rustbelt City south of Buffalo did the unthinkable. Despite all odds, they were able to open the National
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January 4, 2021

Planning for Places

As we kick off the New Year, I have been thinking a lot about how we can better plan for things to come. As a planner, I don’t really love
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November 30, 2020

Choose Civic Pride

We are all subject to the effects of apathy. Every one of us is tempted to do less, give less or accept less. While this might be our nature, to
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October 27, 2020

This is How it Started… This is How it’s Going.

It’s hard to watch the “how it started/how it’s going” meme go around and not immediately think of our cities and towns. They started so well, with integrity, hard work,
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October 8, 2020

More Meaning, Less Meeting

NOTHING is more important than the work of community revitalization organizations. Your community will live or die, based on your success. In meeting your organization's mission, you can improve people’s
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September 29, 2020

Stop Catering to the Deadbeats

Vacant property kills communities. Vacant and deteriorating property increases crime, depresses property values, diminishes the tax base, lowers community self-esteem, repels potential tenants, investors and tourists and breeds rampant apathy.
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September 23, 2020

The Road to Recovery – Part 3 (5 Points of Pride)

This is the final post in a series explaining how communities can utilize the Road to Recovery process to help them navigate a path back to good health. In the
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September 17, 2020

The Road to Recovery – Part 2

I like to get these things out on a weekly basis, but last week had me managing my own recovery. I was laid up from a shoulder and bicep surgery,
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September 1, 2020

The Road to Recovery – part 1

We don’t typically talk about cities like we do people. We avoid language that personalizes a place, instead favoring the language of corporate America. I talked about this a bit
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August 25, 2020

How to Mend a Broken City

When talking about a topic, our thinking is confined by the language we use. The words provide the framework for how we view an issue. When we talk about communities,
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August 17, 2020

Beyond Shit-Talk

I have been kicking around a problem for quite awhile here at the RorD headquarters (my office that doesn’t have a door and is usually covered in children Tik-Toking). When
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August 10, 2020

Find A Friend, Save Your City.

Neighborhoods first. If I just had one piece of advice to give to city leaders it would be that. Put the neighborhoods first. Prioritize the people. Do your absolute best
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July 23, 2020

Why Good Neighborhoods went Extinct

I followed my dad’s finger, pointing through the windshield towards the second house in from the corner. “There it is, that’s the one I grew up in” he said as
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July 15, 2020

Love Your Place to Life.

There are two sides to economic revitalization and they must work in tandem to create change in a community. The first is the economic side. This is about training people
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July 8, 2020

Over-Planning

I rarely know what to call myself, professionally that is. I have a degree in urban planning, which would make me a planner, but I have never spent even one
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July 1, 2020

The Real Parking Problem

For anyone that has worked in economic development, community development and especially, downtown revitalization, you have become all too familiar with the parking problem trope. It might be the single
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May 5, 2020

A Crisis of Class (The Curse of Softpants)

I love looking at historic photos and seeing how our places have changed over time. Something that always stands out, is how nice everyone dressed in the past. No matter
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March 26, 2020

What If…

Like most, I have had some extra time on my hands this week. Work has slowed down and I am thankful for some additional time with the family and to
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February 26, 2020

Communityness

A city or a town cannot be successful, or only to a marginal degree, if it is not also a community. A city aims to serve its residents, but this
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February 18, 2020

Help Isn’t On The Way

Help Isn’t On The Way HGTV was in my feed quite a lot last week, which I can promise you is unusual. I generally avoid HGTV, not because I am
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November 21, 2019

Fast Food For Thought

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, we are all probably giving more thought to food than normal…at least that’s the theory. I would assume most people give food plenty of thought year-round.
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November 15, 2019

Effort is the Enemy of Apathy

Apathy is the cancer of community and rarely does it stop until it has effectively destroyed its host. Apathy sneaks in at night and parades on in when everyone is
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October 17, 2019

Accepting of Anything… Proud of Nothing.

At some point, we have to draw a line. We have to make a choice. We have to decide that something is unacceptable, lest everything become acceptable and we acclimate
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October 9, 2019

The Shape of Place

The way I best describe how place affects me is an oft repeated phrase that has most likely grown annoying to those that know me, “I am no more neighborly
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September 24, 2019

Badass Your Board

It’s a familiar scene, we’ve all been there before…the monotonous monthly board meeting. Dress it up if you like, change the time, try a more relaxed setting, maybe even lure
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September 21, 2019

In defense of community

This week we focused on predatory businesses, and by ‘focused’, I mean, talked shit. Most of the response was positive and most people understand that these sorts of businesses are
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August 29, 2019

Old School

I always find the first day of school to be bittersweet. I am happy for the kids to get back to their friends, for everyone to get back into a
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August 9, 2019

Shirt Happens.

I didn’t grow up with any understanding of what a sense of community really meant. A sense of community is an abstract thing, a feeling, that is hard to relay
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August 1, 2019

All Politics is Local

Earlier this week, I posted a story about Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s announcement of a proposed plan to deal with vacancy, if he were to be elected president. I sometimes forget
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July 24, 2019

Wise Council

I enjoy meeting with elected officials. I enjoy talking with anyone that cares about their town. Most council members I speak with are well-intentioned and became involved because they are
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July 16, 2019

Overeducated – The Higher Cost of Higher Ed

For the fifth time in as many weeks, over a phone call with a colleague last Friday, we ended up discussing the merits of higher education. This conversation followed a
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July 9, 2019

A Return to Old Urbanism

My vacation took an unexpected turn last week and ended up lasting a few more days than expected. Does a vacation stop being a vacation when you no longer want
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June 30, 2019

The Fabric of Community

This week’s blog post is the first to be composed by the sea. This is not a habit I plan to get used to. While the sea may inspire some
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June 18, 2019

Setting the Standards

As is becoming a welcome routine, I joined my neighbor for beers on his front porch last Friday, for what he calls “porch pirating.” We cover a range of topics
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June 4, 2019

Own Your Issues

Sometimes I really struggle to figure out how people come to their conclusions. Some of the widely accepted solutions to combat community decline are fascinating. Often they have little to
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May 28, 2019

The (Bike) Path Forward

Like most, I really didn’t have any appreciation for one of the world’s greatest inventions. I assumed bikes were only for children, drunk drivers and men with a lycra fetish.
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May 21, 2019

Something’s Missing

The historical society, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions Club, Masons, The United Way, local foundations, economic development organizations… you know them well, their emblems populate
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May 14, 2019

It’s Not the Red Tape, Stupid

Another town and another enlightening conversation with an elected official. Over a cup of coffee, this particular mayor was filling me in on his city's strategy to rebuild their economy.
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May 7, 2019

Save Our Buildings, Save Ourselves

A few years back, while hosting an event for the governor’s State of the State address in Marietta, Ohio, I had a chance to speak with a local councilwoman during
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April 23, 2019

Lessons Learned on Main Street

Revitalization never crossed my mind as any sort of career aspiration as a child, city planner didn’t quite have the same appeal as being the next Bo Jackson. The concept
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April 16, 2019

A Reason to Stay

A few years back, I was touring the downtown of a community in northeast, Ohio, and had a bit of an epiphany regarding the true importance of downtown. City leaders
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April 9, 2019

Pick Up Your Place

We don't often give credit to how much appearances affect us and shape our opinions. We judge nearly everything based on looks. We see the way people dress and groom
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April 2, 2019

Tourism Won’t Save Your Town

Tourism has long been touted as an economic panacea. A sound tourism strategy, in theory, will bring people far and wide to your community to leave you all of their
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March 19, 2019

Home Away from Home

I knew growing up that I wasn’t meant for where I lived. It wasn’t a feeling of arrogance, but of self preservation, a feeling that was instilled into me- through
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March 11, 2019

This Pub Matters

Prior to moving to my neighborhood in 2016, I started doing some research on local bars. I wanted to figure out which bar would be my local when I got
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March 4, 2019

Abandonment Issues

Vacancy is in essence, city rot. If allowed to take hold, it spreads, and in time, will destroy the whole if not treated. Criminologist William Spelman found that, in Austin,
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February 25, 2019

What Economic Development Gets Wrong

This past week brought news of Amazon making the decision not to locate a second headquarters in New York. As to be expected, some saw this as a victory for
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February 18, 2019

Your Town is Not Your Team

Your town is not your team. It’s not your pro-baseball team, it’s not your college girls basketball team, and it’s certainly not your high school football team. Your school district
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January 5, 2019

Does This Place Matter?

Realtors have an old saying, the three most important factors in real estate are location, location, location. Those goofy bastards with their pictures on every flat surface nailed it with
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