Tammy Mayer, CPHA’s Director of Community Engagement, attended the fourth annual Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference presented June 20th–22nd by the Center for Community Progress. The conference centered on reusing and redeveloping foreclosed, vacant or neglected properties, the essential mission of the Center for Community Progress. This year’s theme, Remaking America for the 21st Century, represented an exploration of economic recovery and reinvention as keys to community improvement.
For photographs of the conference and detailed descriptions of how New Orleans is reclaiming its vacant lots, take a look at Tammy’s pictures on CPHA’s Facebook album on the conference.
The conference took place in New Orleans, a grand city ready for recovery and renewal. The revitalized New Orleans Hyatt Regency, which reopened last fall after Hurricane Katrina, hosted the conference. Despite the unique nature of New Orleans’s challenges, there was no shortage of information relevant to Baltimore’s efforts to solve our vacancy problem.
The attendees saw examples of reuse, properties in varying stages of repair, and new hurricane-ready homes in the Crescent City. Development corporations have worked to beautify empty lots slated for future development with temporary greening such as tomato plants and flowers. Residents and nonprofits have collaborated to turn abandoned lots into fruit orchards. Mayer noted that this kind of agriculture is very possible in Baltimore. Although our climate doesn’t support the tropical fruit that grew in New Orleans, Mayer said, “in Baltimore we can grow figs and apples, pears and peaches!”