Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Abandoned Building Census

Given the insane real estate market in New York City, abandoned and/or underutilized buildings aren't the problem they once were, but they do still exist. City Limits is reporting that Scott Stringer, the Manhattan Borough President, is undertaking the first ever survey of abandoned properties in Manhattan. Prompted by homeless activists, Stringer's office will unleash a cadre of volunteers this Saturday, who will identify buildings such as 190 Mercer St. (which is certainly underutilized, if not entirely abandoned). According to City Limits, other cities have conducted similar surveys with good results:

Boston does an annual street-by-street count of abandoned properties that covers most of the city. When housing agency staffers find buildings that qualify, they post the addresses online to urge neglectful owners to either use the buildings or sell them. Since 2000, the number of abandoned buildings in the city has dropped by 43 percent.

Of course, that drop also coincided with the real estate boom, so it's not necessarily a causal relationship, but shaming neglectful property owners is never a bad thing.