Vacant Lots - Abandoned Potential

Leslie Batten

Vacant lots are scattered like patches throughout the city. Defined as "a lot with no permanent buildings", these lots take on any number of forms that allow for a variety of functions: habitat, garbage dump, exhibit space, water retention reservoir, community unifier, or just left over space. Most of us speed by without stopping to look, but with some exploration these spaces are more than just a lot devoid of a built structure. Each vacant space has a story to tell. They all have a history, an owner, passerby's and neighbors that shape these spaces. In turn, vacant spaces also influence their surroundings for better or worse. They are palimpsests of how we use the land over time, and allude to the future potential for urban renewal or redevelopment.

Many vacant lots are protected by a chain link fence that forms a barrier, as if to protect a valuable asset or to preserve its state of transition. While others remain open and unguarded. Some spaces indicate previous development with hints of foundations, or parking lots overgrown with grass and weeds. Others are neat, tidy spaces that look designed. In some cases these spaces provide a bit of nature in the midst of an otherwise built out and highly urban area. Others are in such a state of decay that they are wounds in the landscape and a source of outrage for their community. Still other vacant spaces provide for other temporary uses.

These are just a few vacant spaces scattered between Greenwood, Fremont, Ravenna and the University District. Many others with similar and unique traits are spread throughout the city, forming a connection between micro- and macro-urbanism. They too express a personality, a history, and hold a story that is more telling than just an empty lot.

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