Greater Ohio Policy Center Undertakes Research on Solutions to Commercial Vacant Property

Greater Ohio Policy Center has long contributed to strategies for mitigating the impact of abandoned and vacant residential property in Ohio and beyond.

Building on our expertise in residential property stabilization and redevelopment, Greater Ohio is now beginning to conduct research that will identify practices and policies that will assist communities in returning vacant commercial properties to productive use. Commercial properties—strip malls, urban core buildings with retail or commercial activity on the first floor and residential space on upper floors, office buildings and other non-industrial properties—pose unique challenges and opportunities.

Greater Ohio’s initial research indicates that addressing the commercial vacant and abandoned properties challenge is an essential revitalization component and that these properties can play a critical but somewhat unrealized role in promoting economic and business redevelopment in older industrial cities.

First, GOPC is working in partnership with the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) to develop a Vacant Commercial Property Reuse Toolkit. This Toolkit will support economic and community development teams and nonprofits, local and state policymakers and community groups as they work to transition vacant commercial property into productive reuse that is strategically linked to community economic development goals. GOPC’s work with GMF is a spinoff of GMF’s Cities In Transition project, which is building a network of policy makers, practitioners, and civic leaders in Detroit, Flint, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Youngstown.

Second, in connection to GOPC’s Healthy Properties, Rebuilding Communities Initiative, GOPC is developing state policy reforms that will assist communities in stabilizing commercial properties. Preliminary research is investigating ways to reform code enforcement statutes, hold owners accountable for neglected properties and identify ways policy reforms can support the demolition or rehabilitation of vacant properties.

Commercial vacant properties are a valuable resource in a state where sparking entrepreneurialism, training and retaining the workforce, and attracting businesses are key economic development strategies. Greater Ohio will be spending the next 8-12 months finding solutions to the pivotal commercial properties in our cities and communities, check our blog and newsletter often for updates and reports on our research.