|June 8, 2012 - The Knoxville
Property developers, bankers, neighborhood leaders, and government and nonprofit officials next week will be wrestling with the challenges posed by blighted and vacant properties in Knoxville and Knox County.
With the help of two outside consultants, separate meetings on Monday, June 11, will focus on repurposing and revitalizing blighted buildings and blighted vacant lots in Knoxville's residential neighborhoods, commercial corridors and industrial sectors. The meetings, which are open to the public, are sponsored by the City of Knoxville with significant support from Knox County, the Knoxville Chamber, and Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corp.
Present at both meetings will be Alan Mallach and Kim Graziani of the Center for Community Progress. CCP is a nationally recognized firm that provides conferences, trainings and consultations on all aspects of abandoned, blighted and vacant properties throughout the U.S. The City and County have worked with CCP on a variety of issues, including efforts to reform Tennessee's tax foreclosure laws.
The two planned meetings on Monday are:
1:30-3:30 p.m. at the East Tennessee History Center on Gay Street. A panel including developers and local officials will focus on the development of blighted buildings and vacant lots for commercial, industrial and multi-family residential uses.
5:30-7:00 p.m., in the community room of the Cansler YMCA, 616 Jessamine St. A citywide community meeting will address the challenge of blighted and/or vacant buildings and lots in residential neighborhoods. Neighborhood organizations are especially urged to send members to this meeting. (The Cansler Y is just three or four blocks from the I-40 Broadway/Hall of Fame interchange with I-40.)
The panel for the 1:30 p.m. meeting will include property developers Jeffery Nash, Courtland Group; Joe Petre, Conversion Properties; John Craig, Segundo Properties; Mark Heinz, Dewhirst Properties; Bud Cullom, Cullom Properties; and Jim Harrison, Hunter Development Co. Other panel members are Lynne Fugate of CapitalMark Bank & Trust; Tom Vester of Pinnacle Financial Partners; Alvin Nance of KCDC; Doug Lawyer, Knoxville Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Bill Lyons, Deputy to the Mayor/Chief Policy Officer of the City of Knoxville; Todd Napier, The Development Corporation of Knox County; and Kim Trent, Knox Heritage.
Bob Whetsel, Director of Redevelopment for the City, will moderate the afternoon panel. There will be time for questions and comments from the audience.
"With Kim Graziani and Alan Mallach assisting us, this is an opportunity for local government, the private sector and neighborhoods to revisit and perhaps add to the tools and strategies we employ to reuse and revitalize blighted buildings and vacant lots," Whetsel said. "We also want to broaden that conversation to include others who wish to be involved in reversing blight conditions in our community."
Graziani, vice president of capacity building for CCP, previously served as the director of neighborhood initiatives in Pittsburgh, Pa., where she developed and implemented policies, programs and projects that bring about neighborhood revitalization. She targeted innovative strategies for the productive reuse of tax-delinquent and abandoned properties. In addition to leading a citywide land recycling initiative, Graziani was instrumental in the creation of Green Up Pittsburgh, a blight reduction program that transformed hundreds of publicly-owned vacant lots into productive green spaces through community partnerships.
Mallach is a senior fellow at CCP, a non-resident senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program of The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. He has been engaged in housing, planning, and community and economic development as a public and private sector practitioner, advocate and scholar for more than 40 years.
Mallach is the author of an influential book on blighted properties, "Bringing Buildings Back: From Vacant Properties to Community Assets." His most recent book is "A Decent Home: Planning, Building and Preserving Affordable Housing." He is also a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
See www.communityprogress.net for more on CCP and its work.