As you may have noticed, we have already posted a map of the 16,885 documented vacant structures in Baltimore. These structures – in addition to the thousands of vacant lots – are a potent tool for attracting desperately needed employers and new residents to the city.
To encourage all-inclusive economic growth that will significantly reduce unemployment and poverty, Baltimore Rising is proposing legislation for Council consideration that will offer city-owned properties to employers who move to our disadvantaged neighborhoods where most vacant properties are located. Our program will also give these employers property tax relief for at least 5 years. Not to worry, these vacant properties aren’t paying taxes anyway, so no loss of city revenues there.
The new interactive map below shows only the 2465 vacant buildings the city already owns. It’s still a large number of properties, but it’s only a fraction, less than 15% of the total 16,885. The point is, we need to do everything we can to expedite the takeover of vacant and abandoned properties from private to city ownership in order to give prospective employers and new residents as many choices as possible.
The Baltimore economy is weak and unable to provide jobs and living wages for a very substantial portion of the city’s population. We can’t let privately-held abandoned properties just sit there, remaining in private hands where the property is useless as a tool for generating jobs. We can’t do it and Baltimore Rising, with your support if you are able to contribute, is going to do everything possible – through legislation, lobbying and public awareness initiatives – to greatly expedite the takeover of these properties.
Depending upon who we talk to, it can take 12 to 24 months to move an abandoned property from private to city ownership – and that’s only if one of our community organizations or other non-profits is pushing for that to happen for a specific property. Twelve to 24 months is ridiculous. Employers and families interested in moving to the city aren’t going to wait that long for a property to come online and shouldn’t have to. Inefficiency at this level is unacceptable and does a huge disservice to the good people of Baltimore.
Baltimore Rising has legislation in mind that will greatly streamline and expedite the process of conversion from private to city ownership for all the city’s abandoned properties, including vacant lots as well as buildings. And what do we propose to be our principal tool for making this happen? Eminent domain.
With the assistance of our attorneys, we’re going to make the case that the rapid, no-nonsense, timely takeover of these properties is a matter of urgency for the city relative to which the greater benefits justify the use of eminent domain.
And we’re going to do this because it’s not just about the 2465 vacant buildings the city already owns, but about the total 16,885 that have been recorded, plus who knows how many have not. And then there’s the 17,231 vacant lots.
Time to stop talking about turning this city around and actually do it. Time to get this show on the road.