Posts tagged with "foreclosure":

Unmasking the Motor City: New mapping software by LOVELAND Technologies is helping to fight blight in Detroit

Detroit is in the midst of the single-largest tax foreclosure in American History. More than 60,000 foreclosed properties are clustered in the Motor City. The threat of eviction looms over remaining inhabitants and poses the larger long-term threat of a spike in homelessness. The root of the problem—unpaid property taxes—seems untenable when viewed alongside the resulting greater city-wide disaster. Auctions selling newly "vacated" houses—of which half are still occupied—for around $500 are becoming increasingly common. Any hope for a stab at renovating some of the vacant properties that litter the city, however, is outweighed by the uncertain outcome interested investors face at the prospect of having to devote their time and money to transforming blight-stricken zones into livable residences. Fortunately, public database LOVELAND Technologies  has taken on the challenge of brightening Detroit's future. Founded by Jerry Paffendorf, LOVELAND started out by mapping tax-foreclosed and auctioned properties. The company took off when Detroit's Blight Task, founded by President Barack Obama, grew interested in LOVELAND's mission and hired them to map every property in the Motor City. LOVELAND Technologies has since developed into a team of employees located throughout Detroit, Michigan and the San Francisco Bay Area. The company's aim is simple; to put America online, "parcel by parcel." An app called “Blexting” gives the public a medium through which to record and publish information and photos regarding abandoned properties, while the more recent "Site Control" gives people the opportunity to create their own custom maps on Loveland Technologies through personal accounts at $30 monthly and group accounts at $10,000 yearly. Allowing the public to have access to information regarding tax foreclosures and blight that is often withheld by the government opens up the playing field to authorities and investors. The power to research and gain a deeper understanding of the planning and development that may be needed for a parcel is readily available at LOVELAND online. LOVELAND promotes the belief that giving the public the tools to become more informed is key to finding a solution for Detroit's blight. As the company propels itself further into action, we're hoping they're right.

Milwaukee pushes urban agriculture for vacant land

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is pushing a plan to turn parcels of city-owned vacant land into urban farms and orchards. The HOME GR/OWN program has long been stalled, but received a boost from the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge. Many of the properties are in the city's troubled Lindsay Heights neighborhood, where a network of nonprofits already works to alleviate the effects of Milwaukee’s disinvestment and foreclosure crises. HOME GR/OWN will work in concert with Barrett’s Strong Neighborhoods Investment Plan, an $11.8 million program to perform a kind of triage on ailing housing stock. The city-funded initiative promotes marketing of salvageable homes and vacant lots, but it also bankrolls the destruction of 300 structures deemed beyond repair. The initiative follows similar programs across the country, including in Chicago, where the Green Healthy Neighborhoods plan captured imaginations in 2011 but has since failed to secure funding. Still, the program’s promise is welcome in a city with as many as 18,000 vacant properties. Its proponents say it may be a cost-effective way to address many intertwined problems at once—many have seized on urban agriculture's potential to create jobs in communities struggling with violence.

The Chicago Spire is One Big Ol’ Water-Logged Bucket Of Foreclosure

Social media was abuzz recently over the reports by eavesdrop, the WSJ, and other major papers about the biggest recession scab over Chicago: the failed Spire designed by Santiago Calatrava. That Irish pie in the sky developer apparently found someone to bail the project out of its foreclosure. Everyone was all, “It’s back on!” Dear readers, until they start pumping the water out of the big hole in the ground, Eavesdrop is betting against this one.

Chicago Spire developer moves to settle bankruptcy, revive project

spire Chicago’s stalled supertall Spire could rise again, according to the Irish developer who went into foreclosure in 2010 after a protracted legal battle over the project. Garrett Kelleher’s lawyers on Thursday filed papers in U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking court approval to move ahead with the Chicago Spire, which remains a hole in the ground at 400 North Lake Shore Drive. Kelleher said a $135 million investment from Atlas Apartment Holdings would allow him to settle bankruptcy claims in full but, as reported in the Chicago Tribune, the court filings don’t say how much more money would be needed to fund the construction of the 2,000-foot-tall condo skyscraper. The twisting tower would have been the largest in the western hemisphere, but the project fell apart in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Skyward-looking Chicagoans, however, never went long without some speculation of the Spire’s resurrection. In June last year, Related Cos. of New York signed on to buy the project's debt. But an affiliate of Related later sued Kelleher for more than $95 million in guarantees involved with the project. According to the plan proposed Thursday, Kelleher’s firm Shelbourne North Water Street would put forward a reorganization plan by August 31 to bring the project out of bankruptcy, potentially transferring the property to Atlas. "We have been working with Garrett Kelleher over the past several months and now share his belief and vision in the Chicago Spire," said Steven Ivankovich, CEO of Northbrook-based Atlas, in a statement. Kelleher seemed optimistic as ever about the project’s sky-high ambitions. "Given the ongoing recovery in the Chicago property market, the timing is better now than when this project commenced," Kelleher said in a statement. "I am delighted to have found a partner who believes in the project as passionately as I do."

Artist Brightens Boarded Windows On Flagging Blocks

  Vacant buildings can drag down whole blocks, depressing property values, encouraging crime and accelerating a spiral of poverty that afflicts many Chicago neighborhoods. Even the boards that cover the windows on abandoned homes can convey a sense that nobody’s in charge, or that an area can’t be salvaged to save it from demolition. That’s the point of intervention for artist Chris Toepfer, who since 1995 has visited thousands of vacant buildings in 17 U.S. cities. Toepfer paints the boards that clad abanonded homes and businesses, working with Chicago nonprofit Neighborhood Housing Service to slow the cycle of decline in neighborhoods hit hard by the housing crisis. Dave Hoekstra profiled their work for the Sun-Times. Also, here’s a 2010 video with Toepfer from Medill Reports.

Related Eyes Chicago Spire Debt as Speculation On New Life Swirls

The Chicago Spire site, currently the city’s most-watched hole in the ground, has had false starts before. This week The Wall Street Journal reported that Related Cos. of New York signed on to buy the stalled project's debt, raising suspicions that development might proceed on the riverfront site. Santiago Calatrava’s twisting tower design was to stand 2,000 feet high and house condos, but the $64 million land bordering Lake Shore Drive in Streeterville sat idle after the recession hit in 2008. The troubled project has been tangled up in litigation ever since. Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency put the project's $93 million in debt on the market earlier this year. While Irish developer Garett Kelleher’s firm still holds title to the parcel, and Related’s reported deal remains up in the air, speculation swirls around the site which not long ago was prepared to house the nation’s tallest building.

Flint, Michigan Flat Lot Winners Announced, Floating House Arrives in June

In June a full-block surface parking lot in downtown Flint, Mich. will house a ghostly, floating home — a monument to the ravages of the foreclosure crisis and a nod to the revitalization public art projects like this one hope to further in the one-time home of General Motors. London-based Two Islands took first place in the inaugural Flat Lot Competition, which comes with a $25,000 prize, for their design, Mark’s House. The story of an imagined Flint resident named Mark Hamilton, whose family loses their home to foreclosure, Mark’s House takes the form of a Tudor-style house clad in reflective panels and set atop a mirrored pedestal. The structure can hold 1,500 gallons of water to be used for cooling mists for visitors to the structure’s canopy and event stage on hot summer days. The design-build competition, launched last fall by Flint Public Art Project and AIA-Flint, called for a temporary structure that would take up no more than eight parking spaces, and would support public programs in a city whose population peaked in 1960. Flint’s Mayor Dayne Walling hopes the design community will help transform public space in the ailing former industrial town, and international buzz for the competition appears to have been a good start. Organizers said they fielded 221 entries from dozens of countries. Three other projects received honorable mention: Stage a Lot by KSE Studio (Sofia Krimizi and Kyriakos Kyriakou) of Brooklyn, NY; Building Bodies for Work by Wes Janz, Tim Gray, and Andrea Swartz of Ball State University; and AC.H2O by Mike Ting of British Columbia, Canada. These projects and 17 others will populate an exhibit alongside Mark’s House to open April 12 during the Flint Art Walk. The built Mark’s House pavilion will open June 14.

Detroit’s Lafayette Towers Skirt Auction Block, For Now

It looks like Mies van der Rohe’s Lafayette Towers in Detroit may avoid the auction block a little longer. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) foreclosed on the high-rise apartment buildings in February, and HUD had planned to put them up for auction this month (albeit with a litany of multi-million-dollar renovations required of the lucky winner). Detroit exercised its first right of refusal on that course of action, wary of the iconic towers falling into the wrong hands. New York-based Northern Group bought the buildings in 2008 for $16 million in cash, but stopped making payments on its loans by 2010. The towers were transferred to HUD soon after. Now the city’s group for planning and facilities is seeking a private owner to bring the buildings back from disrepair.