Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Sustainable Communities

Abstract

Vacant land prevails in shrinking cities that have experienced urban outmigration and economic decline. Low-income neighborhoods and blight lead to conditions where vacant lots exist, consequently producing disamenities for the residents that live near them. Considered magnets of crime and stigmatized for their association with urban decay, vacant land is an environmental justice issue not often directly addressed by municipal governments. Despite this, vacant lots can still be seen as potential opportunities to improve social, environmental and economic qualities of life for surrounding residents. Urban agriculture, rain gardens and pocket parks are examples of how vacant lots can be reused to benefit communities.

The purpose of this research is to build an understanding of (1) why city-owned vacant lots exist in Binghamton, New York; (2) how they are maintained; (3) how their existence impacts surrounding residents; and most importantly, (4) what opportunities exist for their reactivation. My findings suggest that urban greening, such as community gardens and green infrastructure for stormwater management, and affordable housing development are the best uses for vacant lot redemption.

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