urban revitalization

Capital region takes on zombie properties: New York NOW

Jul 28, 2014

Zombie Properties Story begins at 10:40

Dealing with abandoned or zombie properties is a challenge for any municipality. The owner falls into foreclosure, leaving the city to manage the structure and its impact on the community.

Four cities in the Capital Region are hoping the Center for Technology in Government can help them fight urban decay.

Abandoned red brick industrial building in Capital Region
Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail

Everything old is new again, so the saying goes. With that in mind the Preservation League of New York State announced a plan to repurpose five vacant industrial buildings in the Capital Region with the hopes of attracting young professionals and revitalizing communities.

The Industrial Heritage Reuse Project or ‘trendy hipster bait’, launched on Thursday in hopes of breathing new live into old buildings.

Credit NathanaelB / Via Flickr

Mildred Warner of Cornell University recently held a conference at the college on the economic state of upstate New York’s largest urban centers.

She says the region’s cities aren’t getting the ‘full gambit’ of rediscovery by younger generations because they’re not investing enough in areas like quality-of-life and infrastructure.

Basically, that means more people would move back into cities if roads and parks and such were in better condition.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Declining populations and shuttered factories have left rustbelt cities - like Buffalo or Rochester - with numerous vacant and abandoned properties. They can be old homes, former warehouses, or out-of-favor shopping centers.

Municipalities face the challenge of how to get those properties back into productive use.

Kevin Caravati is an urban green space expert with the Georgia Tech Research Institute. He calls those empty sites "red fields" - a play on the term for environmentally contaminated sites known as "brownfields." He has worked in cities across the country, including Atlanta and Cleveland, to turn vacant properties into parks, gardens or nature sites.

An expert panel from the Urban Land Institute presented preliminary suggestions for the future of the HSBC tower in Buffalo on Thursday. The building, owned by Seneca One Realty, is facing the loss of two tenants, HSBC Bank and Phillips Lytle LLP, by Jan. 1, 2014.

Their departure will put the occupancy rate in downtown Buffalo's tallest office building at five percent.

The proposal recommends hiring a developer and update the 40-year-old building into a mixed-use center.  The panel is proposing a banquet facility, resident, hotel and office space.