Twelve WV Communities Focus on Abandoned, Blighted Properties

From Press Release

HUNTINGTON – Twelve communities from across West Virginia will be represented at a summit Oct. 7-9 in downtown Huntington to focus on solutions for blighted, abandoned and dilapidated properties.

The West Virginia BAD Buildings Summit at Marshall University’s Visual Arts Center will feature speakers from the Center for Community Progress, a national, nonprofit organization that is a leader in solutions for blight and vacancy.

It is geared toward cities, counties and/or regional development teams in West Virginia that are seeking creative solutions to problems caused by abandoned and dilapidated structures. The communities that were selected through an application process include: Fairmont, Weston, Richwood, Wheeling, Ravenswood, St. Albans, Terra Alta, McDowell County, Alderson, Morgantown, Huntington and New Cumberland.

Communities were selected based on the strength and diversity of their team, their capacity to implement a problem-property program and the level of interest in creating a Land Reuse Agency. Each team includes up to seven members with various backgrounds and areas of expertise.

The summit will kick off the afternoon of Oct. 7 with a community tour of dilapidated property mitigation practices and successes in Huntington, followed by an evening reception with Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, Marshall University President Stephen Kopp and Center for Community Progress co-founder Frank Alexander. The next two days will provide information, resources and strategy building with the Center for Community Progress, state agencies and local communities that are taking the lead on this issue. 

At the Monday night Huntington City Council meeting, Williams spoke of looking forward to the conference, adding that many folks that have not visited the city recently have expressed "astonishment" at the cleanliness, activities and development.

 

Conference Sessions will include:

* Exploring tools and approaches to addressing BAD Buildings (including delinquent tax enforcement, code enforcement and land banking).

* Exploring potential legislative reforms.

* Statewide agency programs and support. 

* National and local success stories.

* Finding the right tools for your community.

* Building a local plan.

Mayor Williams said Huntington is a prime location for the summit because it was the first community in the state to implement a land bank. Since 2011, the Huntington Urban Renewal Authority’s Land Bank program has acquired more than 200 problem properties and sold 83 for redevelopment. Thirty-two vacant, dilapidated structures have been demolished.

Huntington strengthened its expertise in land banking earlier this year when it was one of eight cities chosen to send a delegation of city officials and community leaders to the Community Progress Leadership Institute at Harvard Law School. The cities, which included Detroit, Milwaukee and Oklahoma City, were selected through an invitation-only application process.

“Since I was elected, I have stressed that Huntington must compete on a national stage,” Williams said. “Our participation in the Community Progress Leadership Institute is a prime example of that, and it allows us to share the innovative approaches we have learned with other communities in West Virginia.”

The BAD Buildings Summit is a partnership of the Abandoned Property Coalition, Huntington Urban Renewal Authority, City of Huntington, Edward Tucker Architects Inc., Coalfield Development Corp., West Virginia Community Development Hub, Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center and Center for Community Progress.

Sponsors include BB&T, Coalfield Development Corp., First Sentry Bank, West Virginia Association of Regional Planning and Development Councils, County Commissioners’ Association of West Virginia and the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers.

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