St. Paul: Pretty vacant

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Rising foreclosure rates and the usual urban woes are prompting St. Paul to address the issue of unoccupied homes and businesses. As of Aug. 1, the city lists 1,198 vacant properties, mostly single-family homes and duplexes. The Star Tribune reports that Mayor Chris Coleman wants to spend $25 million to fix up abandoned buildings in Frogtown, Dayton’s Bluff, Lower East Side and the North End.

For links and more, go directly to Building Minnesota, Todd Melby’s personal blog.

The vacancies have also been discussed in recent weeks on the e-democracy listserv. In this post, Guy Western says, “I’m having a hard time … getting anyone to pay much attention to the blight that occurs to the neighborhood, after [foreclosure], when the vacant properties begin to deteriorate.”

Historic Saint Paul is hosting a brown bag lunch discussion to talk about the issue at noon on September 6 at 317 Landmark Center. The panelists include: Ed Johnson of West 7th/Fort Road Federation; Bob Kessler of the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections; Steve Magner, St. Paul’s Vacant Buildings Supervisor; Marcia Moermond, St. Paul policy analyst and Amy Spong, a historic preservation specialist.

What do you think St. Paul and other cities should do to get vacant properties occupied again? Or refurbished? How big of a problem is this in your neighborhood?