Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2015 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Examining the Spatial Dispersion of Demolitions and Renovations
Irwin, Nicholas
Co-Authors: Elena Irwin

Abstract: Efforts to stem urban decline and exodus from the city have long been at the forefront of the conversation for policymakers. Nowhere is this more pertinent than in cities like Baltimore, where city population has shrunk significantly despite a growing urban population. One of the fundamental issues confronting urban redevelopment efforts is the issue of durable housing. In cities with shrinking population, this durability can lead to an oversupply of housing and cause cycles of urban decline and renewal that far exceed the time scales used in urban policy. Altering these cycles is a central goal of urban policymakers and planners. However, because public programs often rely on influencing the decisions of private developers and owners to engage in redevelopment efforts, the success of these policies rests on an understanding of how uncertainty and other factors influence the investment decisions of these asset holders. Much of the empirical work on this topic focuses on the role uncertainty places on individual option values and does not directly examine the role institutions have as a facilitator of information conveyance that affect an owner’s decision to exercise their option nor does it account for the influence of nearby demolition activities. In this work, we present some of our preliminary findings as part of a larger research project to understand the redevelopment cycles of Baltimore through modeling an urban housing market which incorporates the exogenous actions of local government and its interaction with the timing decisions of private individuals to demolish or renovate. Our initial work examines the spatial dispersion of demolitions and renovations across the city's 279 distinct neighborhoods with special attention paid to the impact of Baltimore's "Vacants 2 Value Initiative" , a program in operation since 2011 that targets investments in selected neighborhoods through streamlining the demolition of blighted and condemned houses and stepping up code enforcement inspections in an effort to spur redevelopment by private developers.