Friday, October 7, 2011

"Blight" Tours: A creative way to attract Preservation and Re-investment

A Great restoration (Photo courtesy EPNIA website)
 Generally speaking by the time most neighborhoods are holding a home tour, the "Urban Pionneers" have long moved on to other neighborhoods and the home prices have gone through the roof. One neighborhood , on its way back, is taking a different approach and "blight tours"' may soon replace the more traditional home tour.

The reasons are simple, attracting those willing to restore old houses is harder than ever before. While prices are generally down and there is a large influx of foreclosed properties , often once grand single families that have suffered the indignity of being turned into apartments, the credit markets have tightened and trying to find those willing to restore and finding resources to do the restoration have become extremely difficult.

One neighborhood in Illinois is trying a new approach of outreach to Preservation minded people and it could well become the latest tactic of emerging neighborhoods and historic preservationists who are trying to turn around a neighborhood by attracting reinvestment.

Known as "Blight Tours" or their more sanitized name "Urban Pioneer Tour"s, the Enos Park Neighborhood in Springfield Illinois is holding its "Urban Pioneer Home Tour' tommorrow (October 8th) from 1-4 PM and is offering the public an opportunity to see some of its "land banked homes', in progress homes, and see the preservation opportunities that exist in the Enos Park Neighborhood. the neighborhood group which has its own land bank and has been strategically buying property and vacant land and has amassed over 40 properties. The goal is to find those "Urban Pioneers" who want to restore and live in a great neighborhood. The group has partnered with lending institutions and other resources who will be on hand to provide information and resources. More info on the tour and Enos Park is available here:

I find this to be a great and solid approach to attracting preservation oriented people and is similar to the small private tours I have been giving of our Knox Hill neighborhood for some time and ties into our "Preservation Opportunity Tour" that Knox Hill Neighborhood Association is planning for Spring of 2012 when we will showcase two under restoration properties and several "opportunity' homes.

Clearly with changing times and challenges presented to neighborhoods new strategies are important.


  1. Your first stop should be 234 Erkenbrecher Avenue.

    I believe a friend(?) of yours visited here under the guise of "being interested in moving here" but instead took pictures of this place and others inside and out to post on their blog.

    Since then it went to sherif sale and sold for a ridiculous amount two or so years ago. Never even cut the grass.

    The owner of this property should be jailed for 100% neglect from day one of ownership.

    It is in a great location. It looks awful but is not beyond repair - just yet.

  2. Actually they were very interested in that house but couldnt get their texas home sold in time. According to records the bank got it for 40k and sold it to some investor outfit in New York for 16K in a 'bulk sale'. Bulk sales are becoming more common, banks bundle a lot of property , good and bad together, often in different cities, and sell it to an investor group who typically does nothing with it

    I know that house well, its a shame, nothing is being done with it.