Land Recycling Strategy
Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA)
The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) is the City of Pittsburgh’s economic development agency, committed to creating jobs, expanding the City’s tax base, and improving the vitality of businesses and neighborhoods.
As much as 1/4 of Pittsburgh’s footprint is abandoned and vacant property that the government does not fully control. In fact, as of 2016, 10.7% of privately owned parcels in Pittsburgh were vacant, unoccupied, or tax delinquent. Hemmed in by cumbersome regulatory processes and costly and out-of-date administrative systems, the City was having a hard time taking control of vacant and abandoned property and putting that property to productive use. The City was in need of comprehensive, institutional reform of the system in order to fulfill the promise of all of their plans and visions for Pittsburgh. Therefore, the URA retained Fourth Economy Consulting to support city-wide reforms to the land recycling program, with the goal of creating a more efficient and proactive system.
Our team conducted extensive interviews and process mapping exercises to document how multiple agencies and departments currently work together to acquire and repurpose vacant, tax-delinquent property. This work helped to uncover challenges related to process, policies, and partnerships, for which we developed recommendations. Those recommendations formed the basis of memos for working groups that were established to support implementation. Our team also gathered data from numerous agencies and departments to create an inventory of the number and status of all vacant and/or tax-delinquent properties in the city. This inventory was then combined with potential costs and revenues to model how many properties the City and its partners could reasonably expect to repurpose and in what timeframe.