Webinar Recording: Dealing with Dilapidated and Abandoned Properties- Economic Development Best Practices

Every community has them – properties which used to shine but are now dilapidated, abandoned, or both. These eyesores can lower the value of surrounding properties and inhibit the ability of the community to attract new residents and businesses. Tune in to this webinar to learn how to turn a population decline into a new opportunity to attract and retain businesses. You will better understand how to track and manage vacant buildings, develop programs that can help you demolish unsafe structures, and explore creative ways to activate vacant storefronts. This webinar, held on February 23, 2017, was the fourth in the six-part mini-series of disaster-recovery webinars targeted to small, rural communities in coal-impacted communities.

Click here to download the webinar recording

Click here to download Hrishue Mahalaha’s presentation

Click here to download Marlee Gallagher’s presentation

Click here to download Christine Butterfield’s presentation


Hrishue Mahalaha Managing Partner Innovation Economy Partners Hrishue Mahalaha is the Managing Partner of Innovation Economy Partners. Hrishue supports an array of domestic clients and helps define, assess and deliver solutions that help improve and develop economies for communities across the nation. Previously, Hrishue spent more than 14 years working with the management consulting firm Accenture. During this time, Hrishue worked closely with a variety of domestic and international, public, private and governmental organizations. Hrishue also has launched a variety of entrepreneurial ventures that spanned from medical devices to a restaurant. Hrishue holds an MBA from Columbia University and a BA/BS in Psychology and Business Management from Case Western Reserve University.

Marlee Gallagher Communications & Outreach Coordinator Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation Marlee Gallagher's background is in nonprofit fundraising, marketing, and community development. She currently works at the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) in Wilkinsburg, PA. In 2015, she organized the effort to lift the community's 80-year ban on liquor licenses, encouraging economic development in the borough's commercial core, and also helped bring the first-ever Vacant Home Tour to Wilkinsburg, raising awareness of community blight and connecting residents to tools to address vacant properties. An independent borough just east of the City of Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg is considered a distressed community with a total vacancy rate of 18 percent borough-wide and 40 percent in the borough's historic business district. Because of this, the Vacant Home Tour was and continues to be an important community event that sparks critical conversations around blight through storytelling, art, and action. Once one of southwestern PA's most affluent communities, Wilkinsburg has experienced a dramatic decline, but due to the tireless efforts of dedicated residents and community organizations like the WCDC, Wilkinsburg is in the midst of a comeback. As such, Marlee's primary role is promoting the community and the work of the WCDC, including engaging residents and business owners, organizing events, and branding and marketing the business district, in an effort to continue shifting the negative perception of Wilkinsburg. Marlee also serves on several boards and commissions and as vice president of Observatory Hill Inc., a community development organization in Pittsburgh.

Christine Butterfield Senior Management Advisor Management Partners Inc. Christine Butterfield has worked in local government for over 20 years in a variety of management positions. She began her career in the Chicago-metro area working in several positions in the city manager’s office in Woodridge and then Oak Park (Illinois). She served as an assistant city manager in Roseville, Minnesota and Bakersfield, California. In those positions, she was responsible for a wide range of cross department and multijurisdictional projects involving process design, improvement, and implementation. One of the projects involved program evaluation and benchmarks for external agencies. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recognized the process in 2000 as a best practice. Her responsibilities as an assistant city manager also included human resources, information technology, and public relations. Earlier in her career, Christine worked with the City of Cedar Rapids as the Community Development director. She was responsible for current and long-range planning, economic development, Section 8, CDBG program and the metropolitan transportation planning organization. Six months into her service, a record flood left the community with $7 billion in damages. Christine led disaster recovery planning and service delivery following the 2008 flood. The disaster affected 1,400 city blocks and displaced 18,000 people. Among other skills, Christine is an experienced facilitator. She oversaw, designed and led a community-wide recovery planning process that engaged more than 4,000 residents in a 10-month period. In addition to residents, the process engaged all levels of government and generated plans for flood protection and the redevelopment of 10 neighborhoods. The plans and implementation actions garnered national recognition. Some of these included the American Planning Association’s 2011 National Planning Excellence Award for Best Practices in Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Planning; 2010 U.S Army Corps of Engineers Outstanding Planning Achievement Award; and the 2009 International Downtown Association Pinnacle Award. Following the disaster, Christine also served as the acting director of Code Enforcement. She developed a model anti-predatory contractor certification process. FEMA’s Office of Inspector General awarded it as a 2009 Best Practice: Contractor Certification. During her tenure with Cedar Rapids, Christine was also responsible for $545 million of new development in the community. She oversaw the development and implementation of the first paperless land development submission process in the State of Iowa while with Cedar Rapids. In addition to her government service, Christine also has consulting experience which included performing economic studies, fiscal impact analysis and staffing recruitment. Christine remains active in the hazard mitigation and risk reduction community. She recently edited the American Planning Association/FEMA 2014 publication of Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: Next Generation. She is a member of the American Planning Association, the International City/County Managers Association and serves on the Policy Committee of the National Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. Christine holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Minnesota in history and political science, and a master’s degree in public policy and administration from the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin.


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