land bank

Irina Zhorov/90.5 WESA

Ronell Guy oscillated between admiration and admonishment as she drove around the California-Kirkbride neighborhood in the Northside.

Guy, who is the executive director of the Northside Coalition for Fair Housing and an interim board member of the city’s land bank, pointed at blighted properties and vacant lots and then cooed at the possibilities of the abandoned properties.

Community Design for Changing Demographics

Jun 3, 2014
Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA


“If a city were a human body, then blight is a disease.”

Like many other older industrial cities, the Pittsburgh region has its share of blight. According to the most recent data from the 2010 census, there are more than 50 thousand vacant houses in Allegheny County. For more than a century, federal, state and city governments have tried to address the issue.

90.5 WESA’s Larkin Paige-Jacobs recently reported on a new generation of tools is being used to try and clean up blighted neighborhoods.

Key to this fight is Land Bank legislation which Mayor Bill Peduto urged city council to pass in order to expedite the claiming of blighted and abandoned property.

"The land bank allows the city to quickly acquire and bundle tax delinquent properties to sell to home developers, rather than the piecemeal and time-consuming approach neighborhood development corporations had taken." 

Beyond Blight...

In our quest to battle blight, how can neighborhood improvements accommodate the current residents and the next generation? How can we revitalize in a way that's adaptive to changing demographics? The Design Center helps local neighborhoods create community driven development plans.

We talked about this with Chris Koch, interim CEO of the Design Center, along with project consultants Rob Pfaffmann, an architect and designer, and Todd Poole, Managing principal and president of 4Ward Planning.

Chris Koch explained how the Design Center balances the developer’s desire for a return on their investment while not driving people out of their communities.

“We want developers in our communities, but there’s anxiety that comes with development. How do we help the communities navigate that? Everything has to be a compromise. When its developer driven, the community doesn't get to be part of the conversation. So it’s finding a way for both groups to come to the table and work with our designers in the city of Pittsburgh to find solutions that work for everybody.”

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Like many older industrial cities, the Pittsburgh region has its share of blight. According to the most recent data from the 2010 census, there are more than 50,000 vacant houses in Allegheny County.

For more than a century, federal, state and city governments have tried to address the issue. Today, a new generation of tools is being used in attempts to clean up blighted neighborhoods.

If a city were a human body, then blight is a disease, according to Aggie Brose, deputy director of the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation.

Flickr user MichaelGoodin

After three months of community meetings, disagreements, and compromises, Pittsburgh City Council passed Councilwoman Deb Gross’s land bank legislation Monday morning.

Councilmen Ricky Burgess and Daniel Lavelle have had the greatest concerns about the land bank proposal, but both voted in favor of the legislation.

Around 200 people spoke at last week’s public hearing on Councilwoman Deb Gross’s land bank legislation, according to Gross’s chief of staff Nathaniel Hansen.

At least one of those people, Josh Caldwell of the Pittsburgh Real Estate Investors Association, has gone public with his proposal for fighting urban blight.

Pittsburgh City Council had their first opportunity to discuss Deb Gross’s proposed land bank legislation as a group on Wednesday. The bill was first introduced on Jan. 14.