A BRO reader has passed along an interesting online project that we can all play a part in. StrongTowns, a popular urbanist site, understands that cities are only as strong as the sum of their neighborhoods. Vacant lots have the potential to become community gardens. Sprawling parking lots can become dynamic infill. An empty, boarded up house can be restored and woven back into the fabric of a street.
While this all might sound easy, it’s not. Whether these properties are owned by The City, or an absentee landlord, or a person who makes bank during events parking cars, there are reasons that certain prime properties sit fallow.
Let’s shine a huge spotlight on these spaces. They don’t need expensive utilities, a new road or a tax subsidy. They just need a fair shake.
If you have a particular underutilized plot of land, or building that you feel is prime for infill or restoration, StrongTowns.org wants to know about it. They are under the belief that if these properties are spotlighted on a national stage, a certain amount of “crowdsourced optimism” will loosen up the property and get it headed back in the right direction.
Throughout the week, StrongTowns will be taking a look at all of the submissions, and at the end of each week they will be posting the top results. In order to play a part in this urbanist exercise, participants must do the following:
- Get outside and take pictures of the vacant or underutilized properties in your town.
- Upload your photos to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #BuildHereNow
- Bonus points if you include the location and a suggestion of what you would like to see built there. (Note that turning on location services will also greatly aid us in mapping out these posts all over the country.)
I intend to submit the Grant Street parking lot that I featured on this New Year’s Resolution. It’s a key parcel at the intersection of Grant and Auburn, and could be a major building block if the right person got a hold of it. It’s a sad state of affairs that could use a little national attention and “crowdsourced optimism”.