Webinar to focus on blight in Pa. communities

Written by Emily Previti/Keystone Crossroads | Aug 17, 2015 2:43 PM

Blighted properties on an Altoona street. (Kate Lao Shaffner/Keystone Crossroads)

(Undated) -- Cities across the state hoping to avoid or curb blight might find some help through an upcoming Penn State Extension program.

Penn State Extension's latest installment of a land-use webinar series will focus on vacant industrial and commercial buildings.

Extension educator Peter Wulfhorst says blight is common throughout Pennsylvania.

"In the case of old manufacturing buildings,  maybe the plant's shut down and they've moved out of the community, or in the case of big box stores, they've shut down," he says. "In the case of malls, they're losing tenants and they're not as vibrant as they used to be."

Wulfhurst says blight can pose big problems for cities across the state.

"If they continue the way they are, it does lead to lower property values for surrounding neighborhoods," he says.

A panel of experts will detail how some municipalities have revamped empty buildings into desirable retail and residential spaces, including in Wulfhurst's hometown, where a former grocery store transformed into a movie theater. 

The webinar, which begins at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, is geared toward planning professionals and community leaders, but open to anyone.

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