Terry Gillen, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia, spoke at an Urban Sustainability Forum entitled "No Vacancy: Reimagining Vacant Land in Philadelphia," which took place at the Academy of Natural Sciences on Thursday, September 17. Roughly 275 people attended the event, which also featured Daniel Kildee and Farah Jimenez.
Gillen, who spoke first, described her remarks as a primer on vacant land. The basic facts are grim: Philadelphia has roughly 40,000 vacant properties. Since 1950, the city has lost 25% of its residents, some of whom simply abandoned their property. Almost 70% of that vacant property is privately owned, and more than half those owners are delinquent on their taxes.
But the issue goes far beyond uncollected taxes. Abandoned buildings and empty lots drag down the value of surrounding homes and businesses. According to Gillen, no part of Philadelphia is immune to this problem.
Goodman has worked as a city planner and project manager for PennPraxis since graduating from PennDesign in 2007. His focus has been on projects that combine community engagement and public space design, including the Central Delaware Waterfront Planning Process, the Green2015 initiative for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and the Bartram’s Mile project in Southwest Philadelphia. Goodman was an early contributor to PlanPhilly and helped shape the site in its first iteration. As PlanPhilly has grown, Goodman has represented the publisher and provided professional planning input and project management support as the site expanded its beat coverage, went through multiple redesigns, conducted an internal strategic plan, and researched revenue generation opportunities.