by Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps Member
New Historic Thomas has been working with the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center's BAD Buildings Program to create an inventory of Thomas' brownfield, abandoned, and dilapidated (BAD) buildings. We've finished our inventory and prioritization list, and the BAD Buildings Program has been working diligently to process our information. Why is it so important for Thomas to address its' vacant and dilapidated buildings situation? According to the BAD Buildings Program:
These properties demoralize communities; pose environmental, health, and safety hazards; and provide an attractive nuisance for illegal activities, including drug use. BAD Buildings slow local economic development by reducing available commercial and industrial properties as well as making a community much less attractive to entrepreneurs and developers.
Having a categorized and prioritized inventory of our BAD buildings gives the City as well as other local groups a bigger picture of our blight. Having a list and accompanying map will re-frame our vacant and dilapidated homes and buildings as opportunities for re-use.
Some of the dilapidated and abandoned buildings on our inventory are currently being rehabilitated, and more and more buildings will be removed from our list in the coming years. One prominent example is 172 Spruce, a historic building currently being restored to be used as retail and living space.
Most people already realize that Thomas has been dealing with a lack of housing stock, which inhibits our City's ability to grow. Many potential residents (and potential employees) are discouraged from moving to Thomas as a result of this. We're starting to see more and more property owners becoming invested in maintaining and restoring their properties. As a result of this, more people will start to see Thomas for what we already know it to be—a great place to live, start a business, and raise a family.
Take a look at our preliminary BAD Buildings map below: