Vacant Property Research Network (VPRN) Background

Fueled by the economic recession and foreclosure crisis, communities of all types—urban, suburban, and rural—confront challenges posed by vacant, abandoned, and distressed properties. As creative policy and planning models continue to emerge from pioneering cities throughout the country—from Cleveland and Pittsburgh to Fresno and Flint, the charge for the Vacant Properties Research Network (VPRN) is to conduct, translate, and promote applied policy research which facilitates the transfer of new models for reclaiming vacant and abandoned properties and the alignment of regeneration policy initiatives and programs.Launched in October 2011, the VPRN provides a dynamic platform for collaborative problem-solving, exchanging policy innovations, and developing applied research projects that support work in the field. The network’s main activities include:

NETWORK offers a collaborative space for tracking, debating, and assessing innovative policies and practices across multiple research and policy initiatives. Participants include representatives from academia, government, policy institutes,
professional organizations/associations, national and local nonprofits, and community based initiatives.

INVENTORY provides the only online bibliography of articles and reports on topics relevant to regenerating distressed cities, reclaiming vacant properties, and revitalizing neighborhoods. Researchers can post and share their own work as well as the reports of others. Developed as a dynamic platform, the inventory facilitates larger conversations about current research needs that can help develop a stronger, trans-disciplinary evidence base to support policy change.

RESEARCH ROUNDTABLES & BLOG create vehicles for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to develop research action plans and comment on the latest developments from the field. During the roundtables participants identify
potential research topics and discuss how applied policy research can further support the design and development of new models and innovative strategies for reclaiming vacant properties and regenerating distressed cities. Our blog includes recent summaries of the latest academic articles and policy reports that are found in the Network’s Research Inventory.

RESEARCH AND RESOURCES showcases articles and reports by MI + VPRN professors and staff, research by network contributors, websites, and blogs covering all facets of vacant property reclamation, legacy cities, international shrinking cities, sustainability, and urban regeneration.

ADVISORY BOARD comprised of leading scholars from the vacant property and legacy cities field:

  • Frank Alexander (Emory Law School)
  • Robert Beauregard (Columbia University)
  • Robin Boyle (Wayne State)
  • Margaret Cowell (Virginia Tech)
  • Margaret Dewar (Univeristy of Michigan)
  • Justin Hollander (Tufts University)
  • Dan Immergluck (Georgia Tech)
  • Dennis Keating (Cleveland State)
  • Marla Nelson (University of New Orleans)
  • Michael Pagano (University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • Terry Schwarz (Kent State)
RECRUITING researchers, graduate students, and practitioners for small virtual working groups to develop research agendas and synthesis briefs around a number of topics, such as urban greening and public health. For more information go to the network website. We are also searching for 4 to 5 practitioners and policymakers to round out the Board. From information, please contact MI Director, Joe Schilling at
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