State of the Land Report: September 2022

Welcome to the State of the Land Report!

September 2022

The State of the Land Report is our monthly update where we will be educating and sharing out about everything you need to know about vacant land policy in the City of Pittsburgh!

The Nook at Oasis Farm and Fishery. See Grounded Spotlight for more information!

Advocacy Network

Thank you for subscribing to our advocacy network, if you have not already done so please subscribe here.

Grounded is working to improve the condition of vacant lots by developing sustainable solutions that can address the environmental and racial injustices currently entrenched in our property management system. The lack of a comprehensive and unified strategy to care for vacant lots disproportionately affects low-income communities of color.

We must ensure that the process of land recycling and maintenance is conducted equitably, transparently, and through an anti-racist framework. Help make change happen in local, state, and federal land-use policies, voice your concerns about vacant land in your community, share how you want to see vacant land transformed, and support your neighbors in obtaining land access and ownership.

State of the Land Updates

Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference Recap

Case Study: 7213 Frankstown Avenue in North Homewood

This September, the Land Use Policy Team presented on their upcoming project looking at documenting the history and cause of losses of vacant land through data.

Vacant land data governance is essential to an equitable land recycling system. To create a system rooted in antiracism and environmental justice, we must appropriately weigh the reality of redlining, targeted divestment, and gentrification against speculative gains when determining the highest and best end use of a vacant parcel.

In places where divestment and oppressive policies have led to large inventories of vacant land in cities, we ask, how can we turn resident stories into data points to be aggregated, analyzed, and reckoned with.  We call this “ground-truthing”. Through Ground Truthing, we use this community-led data to help determine vacant land end use through racially just typologies.

Below is a case study we gathered extensive information on including resident interviews, background, and archived research and utilize open data to determine the history.

Neighborhood: Homewood North
Parcel Size: 1,500 sq, ft
Current Owner: City of Pittsburgh – purchased in August 2019
Last Owner Prior to City Ownership: Charles Dwyer, purchased the land in 2003
Summary Description: This was a row house with a large yard that was owned by a Charles Dwyer. From what we can tell from Google Image timelines, the row houses were demolished between 2007-2011.

Land Loss History 

Charles Dwyer, appeared to have lost the property to tax delinquency in 2020. The property was listed for Treasurer’s Sale in August 2019.

Reimagination of the Frankstown lot by Homewood residents, produced by Marlin Gist & Human City Creative.

Call To Action

Tell us your land acquisition story! Have you tried to acquire vacant land? Do you want to try to acquire land?  What is your feedback? Tell us your story! Email us

Policy Updates 

Urban Redevelopment Authority and Pittsburgh Land Bank Updates

URA weighs joining Housing Authority to aid new homeowners

Pittsburgh’s land bank hasn’t rehabbed a single blighted house in its 9 years

City Council Meeting Highlights

Pittsburgh City Council considers measures to address spike in homelessness

Pittsburgh City Council hits pause on major Oakland zoning changes

State of Pennsylvania Updates

How Property Is Taxed in Philadelphia

What the city collects and how the process compares with other big cities

Grounded Spotlight- The Nook

The Nook Project at Oasis Farm and Fishery is a design intervention that prioritizes food sovereignty and public space in Homewood. Last fall, OFF’s Tacumba Turner collaborated with architectural designer, Ever Clinton, and The Falk School of Sustainability at Chatham University to initiate a series of design charrettes with Homewood residents.  This summer, OFF partnered with Grounded’s Design and Placemaking team to implement design changes according to resident feedback. With the generous support of an anonymous donor, our project team began construction in July 2022.

The Nook is designed for intergenerational public space, where Homewood residents may gather and congregate among medicinal plants. Plans for the site include a new shade structure, a rainwater collection system, grill station, bike repair and storage, accessible gravel pathways, and a communal garden bed.

Additional Resources

Celebrating 15 Years of Grounded

The 15 Years of Grounded campaign celebrates our organization’s founding by highlighting 15 projects that have helped communities and residents find new ways to get outside, relieve stress, and beautify their neighborhoods. Come back daily to see which projects we highlight as we look back at the past 15 years. Help keep us Grounded and donate here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.