From Redfields to Greenfields

You’ve probabably heard of greenfields and brownfields, but what about redfields?  That’s the new term of art for commerical properties that have become abandoned because of foreclosures or other forms of red ink.   These properties can become a real public headache, especially in regions hard hit by the current downturn.  In my travels, I’ve seen acres of closed shopping malls and other commercial centers in communities like Phoenix.   A new article from Miller-McCune, a journal produced by the Santa Barbara-based Miller-McCune Center, examines how some communities are trying to turn these eyesores into local assets.

Redfields is a catchy title for efforts that try to map out local pockets of foreclosed properties and assess their fit with a region’s green space strategy.  If the stars align, communities can purchase or take control of the abandoned properties and convert the facilites into parks or green spaces.   Like earlier brownfields strategies, the redfields approach offers a potential “two-fer” for policy makers.  It gets rid of ugly blighted properties and expands local green space at the same time.

 Some early projects are already underway in communities like Wilmington, DE, Cleveland, and elsewhere.  (You can learn about those projects here.)  As is often the case, lack of financing is the main hold-up for additional projects.  Advocates are pushing Washington to offer a helping hand, perhaps by re-programming unused TARP and stimulus dollars.  In today’s tough budget environment, capital solutions are more likely to come on a case-by-case basis where a mix of local foundations, local governments, and other supporters join together to fund and implement key projects.  Stay tuned as these projects, and this emerging movement, proceed ahead.  

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