GIS grants for redevelopment of vacant/abandoned properties

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Mark H. just tipped me off to a grant program by ESRI, Magellan, and the National Vacant Properties Campaign to provide $50k in GPS and GIS hardware, software, and training to 10 governmental agencies to develop applications for "producing or enhancing property inventory and encouraging redevelopment of vacant or abandoned properties within the United States." Applications are due December 1. Who wants to help me develop a proposal for Ypsilanti?

I think we've got a pretty good shot:

  • We've got some vacant and abandoned properties

  • We're a "Redevelopment Ready City"
  • We've got a pretty rockin' techie volunteer community, including such public geodata projects as Ypsi Crime Maps.
  • We share GIS capacity/systems with Washtenaw County, so could easily disseminate whatever we come up with.
  • I assume actual development time would be an in-kind match by the local agency. Which means me, and however many of you community informatics / public-interest GIS geeks I can drag in.
  • We'd probably be one of the only applicants in the country putting up, as project lead, a trained planner with a resume in computere programming, including three years programming applications for handheld devices. (They obviously want something that includes programming for the Magellans.)

Now, we've just got to come up with a proposal. My off-the-cuff suggestion would be on the marketing side of things: Most of our vacant properties around town are owned by single-property landlords, or landlords who only own a handful of properties. Small-holdings landlords tend not to be professionals, and providing a clearinghouse for spatially-based information on available properties could help improve flow of information about properties to prospective buyers. The data could include geocoded current building / zoning / assessing information on properties from the City, along with other data about the property entered by the owner, a realtor, or an official economic development representative. I don't know what the Magellan devices in question or ArcPad are capable of; I assume you could do things like on-site data entry for cataloging properties, or entering search criteria and finding nearby available properties that match.

That's the best I've got in my current fuzzy-headed state; I tell ya, there's nothing that pushes general low-level crappiness over the edge into a full-blown, face-melting, sleeping for twelve hours sick day like adding a three-hour-long (plus setup and clean-up) night meeting on the end of the previous work day. Bleah.

Anyways, let me know if you're interested in discussing this further / being involved in some way / helping me put together an application.

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The Grant

Well I think the Building Inspector and the Fire Marshall would likely be interested in this and they may have some good ideas of how it could be used in Ypsi. The Police Chief may also have some thoughts. Their collective code enforcement efforts and work with the county SWAT team results in working with a lot of problem properties. They're real good at figuring out which department/official has the needed power/skills to address a certain problem with a property.

WSU's Center for Urban Studies has done some innovative things with GIS/GPS, community groups and online publishing of results. The focus was largely on helping community groups bring attention to problem properties. The CUS has also done a lot of work with ArcPad and a scientific rating system for housing and neighborhood quality. They may have some ideas and or iterest in assisting with an Ypsi program.

Of course EMU should probably be called. I'm sure Nathan has a few contacts there. I have a few as well. Joe Ohren might be one of the best 1st calls. I'm sure you have some U of M contacts.

This is pretty valuable stuff (as the grant details note) and can be used for a lot of stuff long past the grant project. I think it's worth pursuing.


You might want to remove that complaint post a day or so ago if you want to get this grant!

code enforcement

I've been part of the code enforcement meetings for a few months now; property monitoring was another thought. AFAICT, though, code enforcement / property monitoring is something we're doing more effectively right now than marketing. So there's the choice between adding to an already functioning program or creating something to help make properties not vacant anymore. Using this for property monitoring would be easier, but less *interesting*. And, of course, they want to see it used on an on-going basis in a continuing program, so we can include some discussion of next-steps / related projects.

When I notice that ESRI's fixed their legacy bugs (the first one is a total holdover from DOS days, and the second smacks of weak database management), I'll note as much. Until then, I'm doing them a service by helping other users find the work arounds. They should give us the grant out of gratitude. ;)

Make stuff not vacant

Well, I think this is where the grant and its technology can come into play. The various city depts. know what the problem and vacant properties are. I think the logical solution is to start asking how or if this technology could be used to remedy these properties (data collection, marketing to developers, etc.) or do monitoring to prevent future properties from falling into the same fate as the current problem stock. I think that the folks who've been dealing with this problem for a while likely have some good theories on how to do prevention/remediation work.

As far as creating a "sexy" project, as you know "interesting" for planners can be pretty boring to most folks! There might be a good chance that Joe Ohren has some good ideas. Paul Tait might be a good contact too. Ed would have some ideas too and can get you in contact with the above folks.

Found this post via a crazy

Found this post via a crazy link-trail through Ypsi blogs. I'd love to help out on getting a grant proposal like this together. I used to work at Center for Urban Studies (mentioned above), and now work at U of M doing a lot of grant stuff. I don't have any experience with GIS, but it's been on my list of "interesting things I should learn more about" - so this project seems pretty fitting. Any news since you posted this?

Katy, no news yet; the

Katy, no news yet; the December 1st deadline is relatively far away compared to the ones I've been buried under recently at work, and grantwriting isn't necessarily my top extracurricular priority.

I'm still interested in the idea, though, so I'm happy to talk it over further with you, either in this format or other.