Repair Dilapidated Properties

Mon. Dec. 11, 2017
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Renovating Board-Ups

How to Proceed?

There are many views as to whether government should promote neighborhood revitalization, and if so, how. Theories range from large "public works" programs or complete government ownership of such programs and properties, to the other extreme, which is "laissez-faire", a French term that literally means "let do". It is an injunction against government interference with the economy, maintaining that private initiative and production are best allowed to roam free.

Cherokee believes there is no single answer. It depends on the circumstances. Factors include: the state of the economy, whether the private sector is solving the problem on its own, is everyone sharing in prosperity, will government intervention cause more problems than it solves (download our "Unintended Consequences" pdf document), will government intervention help or hinder private investment, and what "payback" do the taxpayers get for their buck in these government programs?

One public sector approach is to create CDCs (Community Development Corporations) that receive a variety of financial incentives to build large scale projects intended to revitalize entire communities. (This contrasts with Cherokee's small, private approach of "infill" renovation of existing "board-ups".)

What are the benefits of these CDCs, and at what cost? There have been many studies in this area. One of them that focused on home ownership programs is a downloadable pdf document called: "Measuring the Economic Impact of Community-Based Home Ownership Programs on Neighborhood Revitalization"

Everyone agrees that it is always helpful if you reduce the number of non-performing (board-ups) in a community. It's just a question then of how to achieve this goal. Whether you prefer public or private community development initiatives, whether you're in the public private sector, whether you're focused on the social or economic aspects, we all want the same thing.

When private companies "fix up" properties, it doesn't cost the taxpayers anything. Not only are no tax dollars spent, but new revenues flow to the government from property taxes, as well as the tax-stimulating results of property renovations and real estate sales. Further, social stability is promoted by creating additional quality housing and job-producing commercial properties, which reduces the demand for police and social services at the same time that tax revenues are increased.

So when private property owners are allowed to "fix up" boarded-up properties, everyone wins. Local government better serve its citizens by actively encouraging this activity, including reducing the regulatory burdens associated with such rehabilitation.

Cherokee acquires commercial and residential properties that are either "under-performing" or completely "non-performing".

Cherokee is part of the solution.

Dilapidated, abandoned buildings decrease property values, reduce tax revenues, discourage development, and are potential fire hazards and magnets for crime. These problems are well known. In the current real estate recession, the effect of each non-performing property is magnified. So any solution is all the more important.

Cherokee preserves existing commercial and residential properties, and rejuvenates these blighted, non-performing properties into vibrant, productive assets to their communities.

Cherokee is a SOLUTION for local property owners and municipalities.

To learn the advantages of renovating existing properties, as opposed to tearing them down and building new, please see Advantages of Renovations versus New Construction


Reinvest or Abandon?


Reinvestment is contagious. Abandonment is contagious. Which would you rather have in your community?

Blighted properties that appear forlorn and abandoned, such as "board-ups", promote vermin, vandals and vagrants. They're dangerous. Even one or two board-ups can stigmatize a neighborhood, reducing property values. Neighbors are less likely to improve their properties, and people are less likely to want to rent or buy near them. Socially and economically, they're like a spreading cancer. Generally, if the owner of a property allows it to decay to this state of affairs, s/he is usually not paying the mortgage or taxes either.

Even a few abandoned buildings can spur a spiral of decline and disinvestment that spreads well beyond the block where the vacant building sits. By facilitating the acquisition and redevelopment of blighted, abandoned residential and commercial properties that plague neighborhoods, Cherokee seeks to help reverse the cycle of decline experienced by many urban and suburban neighborhoods.

Redeveloping blighted properties preserves our existing investments by supporting the communities in which we already live - once vibrant places that have been allowed to disintegrate through haphazard development practices. By revitalizing vacant land and abandoned buildings, Cherokee helps create desirable mixed-use neighborhoods close to transportation and job centers, while providing affordable opportunities to first-time homebuyers and renters. Redevelopment of existing commercial properties faster and less expensive than starting from scratch, which enables us to offer tenants lower rents and more flexible space. This sometimes helps attract new businesses to struggling commercial strips, and help increase the values of properties for existing owners nearby. To encourage this kind of infill redevelopment, local government must be supportive, and it must signal its cooperative spirit to the private sector.

America's stock of existing properties, both residential and commercial, continues to age. This stock represents a vital national asset that can be used to meet the rising demand for housing and commercial development, consistent with state and local efforts to wisely manage continued growth.

So when a board-up is renovated, it benefits more than the subject property, and more than the tax collector. It improves the intrinsic value of the neighborhood. When people see properties being improved, it creates an expectation of growth and improving property values. It fosters hope and promise.

Cherokee concentrates its redevelopment efforts in "clusters" that can be effectively and efficiently managed, in areas where we hope to leverage our work by sparking further renovation by others. This is why Cherokee typically avoids working in very depressed areas where our own success would have little chance of stimulating others to follow. We therefore try to target our "infill" development in mixed areas that are in danger of "tipping" downward, or where others have done some work, and our efforts on several projects at once might be the "spark" to convince others that the renaissance is real.

Every property must support itself economically of course, but Cherokee has more inspirational goals. The stabilizing affects of desirable properties promote community development, and provide the base from which families can be safe and participate in the American dream.

LISC(Local Initiative Support Corporation) started a Vacant Properties Initiative and partnered with several other national organizations to create the National Vacant Properties Campaign. It serves as a clearinghouse for information, advocates for property reclamation, and offers expert assistance to communities. We encourage you to learn more at this link on the LISC web site.