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Old Cities/Green Cities (PAS 506/507)

Communities Transform Unmanaged Land

By J. Blaine Bonham, Jr., Gerri Spilka, Darl Rastorfer

Every American city faces the challenge of vacant land scattered among houses in residential areas. This report provides a look at strategies and programs that provide green areas among urban renewal and sprawl.

Published by APA Planning Advisory Service, 2002

Format: Paperback, 123 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-884829-75-8

Quick order code: P506

Available now

Vacant land is a common sight in virtually every American city. Scattered among houses in residential areas, especially in distressed neighborhoods, small and large vacant, trash-filled lots contribute to an appearance of blight. Abandoned factories and warehouses-some of which are brownfields with hazardous wastes in their soil-mar waterfronts and old industrial corridors. Large metropolitan communities have been especially affected by the dilemma of abandoned land.

Coming to terms with the issues and problems surrounding vacant land is a difficult challenge. Little, if any, precedent exists. In most cities, planners and developers typically view vacant land as the space that is left over after housing, commercial, and institutional development schemes have been built. So the potential uses of vacant land become isolated from other aspects of neighborhood planning and development. Nonprofit organizations, city officials, and observers across the country indicate that the growing scale of vacancy requires new perspectives on urban land use and management and that existing assumptions and practices need a comprehensive re-evaluation since current methods clearly are not working.

This report was developed out of a series of documents on urban vacant land by one of the leading groups in the country dealing with this issue: the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which also supported the color printing in this report. Part 1 of the report addresses the challenges to urban vitality presented by vacant land; vacant land as a neighborhood resource; large-scale greening systems; and the link between urban renewal and sprawl. Part 2 provides an in-depth look at some PHS programs, including the rebirth of the New Kensington Philadelphia neighborhood and the Green City Strategy employed by the City of Philadelphia. An appendix provides a list of contacts to the many community development corporations active in the area of urban greening.

Table of Contents