City Parks Association

Dirt into Dollars

Converting Vacant Land into Valuable Development

Hughes, Mark Alan. Brookings Review. 2000, 18:3.

Philadelphia is a powerful illustration of the concerns surrounding blight, vacant land, abandoned buildings, and brownfields. Like all the nation’s older cities, it has suffered major population loss. Like them, it has been slow in coming to grips with the problem of depopulation. But in the past five years the tide may have been turning. Philadelphia may now have the opportunity to lead the way in what the author calls “civic speculation.” Guided by a strategic vision of a ‘right-sized’ city for its current population, civic leaders could leverage abandoned and vacant land and change the subject from decline through abandonment to growth through consolidation.

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