Blog Archives

Municipal property acquisition patterns in a shrinking city: Evidence for the persistence of an urban growth paradigm in Buffalo, NY

The purpose of this article is to examine municipal property acquisition patterns in shrinking cities. We use data from the City of Buffalo’s municipal
property auction records to analyze the spatial distribution of properties offered for sale in its annual tax foreclosure auction. In addition to these data, we examine demolition and building permit records. Our analysis suggests that cities like Buffalo follow strategies based on an urban growth paradigm when responding to abandonment. This paradigm operates under the assumption that growth is a constant and urban development is only limited by fiscal constraints, underdeveloped systems of urban governance, environmental degradation, and resistance by anti-growth coalitions. We recommend that planners in shrinking cities de-emphasize growthbased planning and focus on rightsizing strategies. These strategies are based on
the assumption that growth is not a constant. Consequently, urban revitalization is concentrated in a smaller urban footprint.

Housing abandonment and demolition: Exploring the use of micro-level and multi-year models

Policies focusing on enforcing property code violations and the improvement of vacant properties are argued to be more efficacious than demolition policies to fight urban blight. This study applies parcel level data to a multi-year hybrid modeling structure. A fine-grained analysis is conducted on the dynamic patterns of abandonment and demolition for a unique period of four years before and after the City of Buffalo’s stepped-up demolition efforts. Results showed that proximity to vacant and abandoned properties, sustained over the years, had the greatest impact on the possibility of a property being abandoned. The second greatest positive impact on property abandonment was small lot front size. Results also showed that neighborhood vacancy density had the greatest negative impact on surrounding housing sales prices over the years. There was no significant impact of demolition on housing sales prices. These findings suggested that the City should aim to have more incentive programs that are tailored to control the number of vacant properties, rather than focusing primarily on demolition-oriented programs.

Neighborhood characteristics and the location of HUD subsidized housing in shrinking cities: An analysis to inform anchor-based urban revitalization strategies

This article focuses on the manner in which affordable housing fits into anchor-based strategies for urban revitalization. It involves quantitative analysis of the location of existing HUD-subsidized housing in relation to neighborhood characteristics. The goal of the article is twofold. First, we examine the degree to which neighborhood characteristics associated with neighborhoods of opportunity correlate with the location of HUD-subsidized housing in shrinking cities. Second, we make recommendations for more equitable approaches to anchor-based urban revitalization. Our analysis uses a unique database developed to measure neighborhood characteristics in shrinking US cities. Our findings suggest that the location of affordable housing is not correlated with proximity to institutional and neighborhood amenities, where anchor-based revitalization is targeted. As a result, we make recommendations to link future affordable housing siting to anchor-based strategies for inner-city revitalization.

Fruit Belt Redevelopment Plan: Preliminary Study

This study follows two earlier works published by the Center for Urban Studies, The Turning Point: A Strategic Plan of Action for the Fruitbelt/Medical Corridor (March 27, 2001) and Fruit Belt/Medical Corridor Tax Increment Financing District (February 12, 2002). The original report argued that better social, economic and physical connections could be established between the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC), a wealth generating district within the city, and the adjacent Fruit Belt residential area, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Buffalo.

The study documented in this report was the first attempt to visualize the physical potential of the residential neighborhood. The work took as proceeded under the assumptions stated in the earlier reports about the amount of residential and commercial / social amenity space that could be anticipated in this redevelopment. It was viewed as an opportunity for the existing community members to make initial suggestions about development they would like to see.