Mayor Ravenstahl announced today at a newly greened gateway in Brighton Heights the formation of a five-member Green Team to transform demolished and vacant lots into green community assets.
"Our City's vacant lots present opportunities for neighborhood revitalization through greening strategies," Mayor Ravenstahl said.
The Green Team will expand the work of the Mayor's Green Up Pittsburgh pilot-project, which successfully transformed more than 40 City-owned vacant lots into assets such as urban farms and community gardens.
"Weve partnered with neighborhoods to reduce blight, inspire community pride, and promote environmental values," Mayor Ravenstahl said. "Now, we are going to further this program's momentum with the Green Team, strategically greening demolished and vacant lots to improve our neighborhoods."
The City has received funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development allowing for the creation of the Green Team.
Last October, the Mayor pledged to double the demolition budget, and later took steps to improve the City's demolition strategy. Condemned structures that could easily turn into attractive neighborhood gardens, side-yards, or make room for development, have an increased chance of reaching the demo list.
"Our goal is to strategically tear down far more abandoned structures in 2008," Mayor Ravenstahl said. "The Green Team will proactively prevent demolition sites from becoming blighted lots, by providing clean and safe canvasses for neighborhoods to reclaim."
Greening strategies have been proven to create further opportunities for communities in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and other cities. A 2005 study by the University of Pennsylvanias Wharton School found that neighborhood blocks with higher concentrations of unmanaged vacant lots displayed home prices that were about 18 percent lower than average. The study also found that the value of properties adjacent to vacant lots that had been cleaned and greened increased by as much as 30 percent.
"The resources Mayor Ravenstahl is devoting to our neighborhoods are not just putting a Band Aid on serious neighborhood problems, but tackling them comprehensively," said Jim Richter, Hazelwood Initiative Executive Director. "From his nuisance property legislation, to his side-yard and greening programs, Mayor Ravenstahl is giving neighborhoods the tools and hope they need to reverse decay."
The Green Team will also target key neighborhoods with future development potential. The City and its partners will work closely with neighborhood organizations for visioning and stewardship.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
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Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
512 City County Building | 414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
telephone: 412-255-2626 | facsimile: 412-255-2687