Most American cities have their share of abandoned buildings, ranging from condemned houses to abandoned warehouses. Studies repeatedly show that these abandoned structures, often referred to as urban blight, contribute to increased local crime. Through public-private partnerships, businesses and municipalities can address these issues by implementing urban blight remediation programs.
How industrial urban blight hurts neighborhoods
Industrial urban blight occurs when an owner abandons a building; as the building falls into disrepair, it becomes blighted. Blighted industrial buildings may span tens of thousands of square feet, becoming an eyesore for other nearby businesses and residences.
Some ways that blighted buildings can negatively impact the surrounding area include:
- Property Values: As buildings fall into disrepair and decay, their property values decrease, often negatively impacting neighboring lots, as well.
- Pollution: Lead paint peels, abandoned chemicals leak, and asbestos eventually spreads — polluting soil, contaminating groundwater, and producing airborne contaminants that spread beyond the blighted facility.
- Health: Pollution and pests, such as rats and cockroaches, generated by blighted buildings pose health risks to nearby businesses and residences. Neighborhoods with significant blight also suffer from higher rates of depression.
- Crime: Blighted buildings offer a haven for clandestine criminal activity, providing expansive space where stolen goods or illegal firearms can be stored or sold, and violent crimes can be conducted in private.
Urban blight remediation proven to reduce firearms violence
In 2019, the United States saw more than 15,000 firearms deaths, while another 30,000 were injured. The link between urban blight and crime, specifically gun violence, has been studied extensively over the last several decades:
- Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania monitored the remediation of 5,112 blighted buildings from 1999 to 2013, discovering notable decrease in gun violence in the areas directly surrounding the blighted properties.
- A Detroit-based blight remediation study showed that demolishing five blighted buildings in an area resulted in an 11% reduction in firearm assaults. Demolishing 6-12 buildings seemed to correspond with an even larger reduction.
- In partnership with the City of Milwaukee, Phoenix Investors demolished an abandoned facility that had become a haven for illicit activities. Careful analysis of data collected over four years by the Milwaukee Police Department revealed a 32% reduction in serious crimes in the area surrounding the building site.
In both Detroit and Pennsylvania, the impact on non-firearm violence in both studies was negligible, suggesting that remediating urban blight has a significant impact on violence specifically related to firearms.
Urban blight remediation at Phoenix Investors
At Phoenix Investors, we believe that continued public and private efforts to remediate urban blight contributes to a reduction in national gun violence. Our passion for urban blight remediation inspires us to partner with local and state governments on projects of this nature.
Founded by Frank P. Crivello, Phoenix Investors is a national commercial real estate firm based in Milwaukee. Our core business is the revitalization of former manufacturing facilities throughout the United States. This strategy leads to positively transforming communities by restarting their economic engines. For more information, visit https://phoenixinvestors.com.