Publication Date

9-2010

Committee Members

Mark Lindhult, Chair - Mark Hamin, Member - Sigrid Miller Pollin, Member - Frank Sleegers, Member

Abstract

Vacancy, as an actor in our urban landscapes, is growing in importance. As the realities of post-industrialism are making themselves ever clearer in many cities across the country, issues of vacancy are becoming of paramount concern. After all, if the density and centrality characteristic of traditional urban form are the result of forces of production and industrialization, then forces of de-industrialization could be said to have a set of equal, yet opposite results. For many post-industrial cities, these results include job and population losses, and an increase in vacant and abandoned land. The situation has only been worsened by the recent foreclosure crisis in the United States, resulting in the vacancy and abandonment of more and more inner-city properties.

An increase in vacancy is cause for concern, as it has been shown to contribute to urban blight in the form of deleterious neighborhood effects such as increased crime rates, decreased property values, and the deterrence of future development [Immergluck & Smith 2006, Skogan 1990]. These issues become compounded the longer that vacancy persists in a neighborhood; whereas short-term vacancy often signals a period of transition, considered normal in many communities, long-term vacancy "speaks overtly of failure: the inability to revitalize" [Corbin, 2003, 15]. As such, vacancy in the urban landscape has become a hot-button issue, and many post-industrial cities are struggling in the search for strategies that can effectively address the problems it is causing in their inner-city neighborhoods. One potential strategy to consider in addressing the current conditions of urban vacancy and abandonment if the incorporation of community gardens as infill on vacant urban land. This project focuses on the exploration of community gardens as infill, and the potential for gardens to contribute to community revitalization, provide a valuable resource for residents, and to transform and enhance the neighborhood aesthetic.

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