Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Miami 21 Development Saga Continues...

From Friday's Miami Herald:

Miami 21, the ambitious and controversial city zoning rewrite passed in October after years of vetting, revision and intense public debate, may get delayed yet again -- this time at the request of new Mayor Tomás Regalado, who was the lone vote against the measure.

Supporters of the new, urban-oriented rule book fear Regalado is attempting to pull the plug on Miami 21 before it takes effect. Regalado says all he intends to do is ask the city's three sitting commissioners for a 90-day delay in the implementation of Miami 21, which is now scheduled to go into effect in February. The delay, until May, will be debated at the commission Dec. 17.

The article goes on to discuss the Mayor-elect's alleged reason for requesting the delay--a reason that has some wondering whether an ulterior motive (that is, killing the code) really exists. --Chad Emerson, Faulkner

December 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Climate Change in MesoAmerica

I am attending a talk by Ron Carroll, UGA Ecology professor and co-director of the River Basin Center (where I am currently housed).  Ron is working in the Rio Tempisque project in Costa Rica, which is a research and outreach site for understanding the consequences of land use and climate change on biodiversity and economic development in Pacific MesoAmerica.  His focus is on mitigation of climate change.  I love attending Ron's talks because he understands almost everything there is to understand about natural systems, and he has a knack for interpreting that information for a wide audience. Today he's talking to an audience of graduate students, lawyers, and other faculty members.

According to Ron and based on data from the IPCC, regional climate models for Central America suggest a drying trend that will reduce precipitation and cause die-off of many species of flora and fauna in the tropical rain forest.   The lack of water will also affect economic development and agriculture.  The human cost in very poor countries such as Nicaragua and Costa Rica will be very high.  In the part of Costa Rica where Ron works, in 10 years it is likely there will no longer be a wet season. That's pretty intense! Other impacts include increases in vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue.  Coffee plantation yield will also be strongly affected.  Nicaragua may lose all of its coffee growing lands, and yields in Costa Rica will be impacted by pests that are currently being kept out by relatively lower temperatures.  However, coffee demand is unlikely to abate, so there will be pressure to open up more high altitude rain forest for coffee cultivation.  Another good reason to buy shade grown coffee - no need to cut down the rain forest to fulfill our caffeine jones!

In the Rio Tempisque basin Ron hopes to create a model showing the environmental services and values of existing land uses and how they can be maintained and improved.  He is partnering with universities in Costa Rica who have centers in the basin, and also the University of Pennsylvania.  He hopes to get funding from US AID, and to share the results of these studies with the other countries of Central America.

Jamie Baker Roskie

December 11, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

When Animal Law and Foreclosure Law Intersects...

The evicted owner of Bonniedale Farms, upset with the way 136 animals on his farm have been treated since he was forced off the property Monday by Wells Fargo Bank, plans to go before a Superior Court judge Wednesday to get a restraining order to force the bank or its agents to provide food, water and care for the animals left behind.

Guy Settipane, the lawyer for Dan MacKenzie, said his client became concerned Tuesday morning after neighbors described chaotic conditions on the property on Snake Hill Road. He said MacKenzie became alarmed when he went to the site and saw, from a distance, “total strangers walking off with his animals.” But the lawyer said his main concern was for the animals — including cats, dogs, chickens, pigs, horses, sheep, goats and others — that he said had been left to fend for themselves...

Read the whole story here.

Now, I fully understand and agree that a bank's right to foreclose on real property is not dependent on what that real property is being used for.  But, if the bank exercises that right, surely it should have a legal (if not moral) obligation to provide basic care for animals living on the farm. 

This is not a situation where Homeowner X leaves behind Buffy the Cat and the bank decides not to continue cleaning the cat litter.  In this case, the animals are much more of a fixture to the property.  If the bank is going to evict the farmer, then it should be required to replace the farmer with a basic animal caregiver in the interim. 

If for no other reason than, as this article discusses, to protect itself against possible animal neglect and cruelty charges as the now-property owners.

--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.

December 11, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Commercial Land Use Problems Continue...

I was visiting with several members of a municipal planning staff recently and heard some interesting information. 

By and large, Planning Commission hearings are much less busy (and, in some cases, have even been cancelled) than before the land development collapse.  One curious exception is that the number of plat requests has not dropped nearly as fast nor far as site plan/development plan/rezoning hearings.  The thought was that some land owners and developers may be trying to position their projects as development-ready if (a huge IF) development lending returns anytime soon.  That's why they're going ahead with the survey and basic engineering work that a plat application requires.

On the other hand, the Board of Zoning Appeals/Adjustments remain fairly busy.  Apparently, property owners are attempting to add on to or modify their existing homes and businesses rather than build new ones.  Oftentimes, they need variances to do this and, as a result, the BZA hearings remain somewhat more active.

Granted, all of this is anecdotal but I have heard similar information from multiple municipal planning types in a wide variety of jurisdictions.

Which leads to a couple of interesting pieces of recent news:

1.  Moody's is advising that delinquencies for commercial mortgage backed securities (CMBS) continue to accelerate.  This is most likely because the underlining commercial properties continue to be vacated by tenants.  More tough news for local and state sales and property tax coffers.

2.  When you consider the recent government jobs that Larry Summers has held and currently holds, then the irony of this story is thicker than a fully-rated firewall.  Could it be the academic equivalent of this?

--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.

December 11, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Virginia Bans Cul de Sacs

Cul de sacs are a love 'em or hate 'em phenomenon - either you think they're a fantastic safe enclave for kids to play or a blight on the environment.  But now, the state of Virginia has gone so far as to ban them entirely from new developments.  A recent article in the Washington Post explains why:

The changes come as cash-strapped states and localities can no longer afford the inexorable widening of secondary roads that are overburdened with traffic from the subdivisions, strip malls, schools and office buildings that feed into them. The system forces drivers to enter these traffic-choked roads to go even 50 yards or so to the neighborhood coffeehouse or elementary school. North Carolina and Portland, Ore., are moving on similar fronts.

"When you have 350 to 400 miles a year of new roads you have to maintain forever, it's a budgetary problem," said Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), who pushed the new regulations through the Commonwealth Transportation Board last month. Virginia has had to cut more than $2.2 billion from its six-year transportation spending plan. "But it's not just about the money. It's about connecting land-use and transportation planning and restricting wasteful and unplanned development."

Virginia will enforce this by withholding road funding and snow removal services from cul de sac streets.  Is this the beginning of a trend? I have always lived in traditional through-street neighborhoods, and have always found the cul de sac a strange phenomenon.  Given New Urbanist trends, it may already have been on its way out.  Still, this is the first effort I know to force them out by state-wide regulation.

Jamie Baker Roskie

December 11, 2009 in Transportation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happy Holidays

It has snuck up on me, but this is as good a time as any to wish all land use blog readers, scholars, and practitioners a happy holidays.  Exams are winding down, students are leaving for break, and practices are starting to move into holiday mode.  Chanukah starts tonight and the New Year will be here before we know it. 

I am reminded of a certain "holiday" poem in light of the spate of eminent domain and takings issues that we have highlighted recently here on the blog: Pfizer leaving New London; the Atlantic Yards case; the Severance case in Texas; the Stop the Beach case in the U.S. Supreme Court; and even the recent NY appellate decision that seems to go against Goldstein.  Now, this poem isn't exactly uplifting, but I hope you find it humorous.  I'm talking about Susette Kelo's Christmas card from 2006, after she lost her case.  It features a picture of her famous little pink house next to a verse that begins: "Here is my house that you did take" and goes on to say "I curse you all; may you rot in hell."

Well, putting that negativity aside, happy holidays to all, and enjoy thinking about holiday land use issues, from municipal holiday displays, to local aesthetic regulations, agriculture, regional and national transportation, building codes, local government schedules, snow removal (for some), economic recovery, [that pile of exams(!),] and any other way in which the holiday season intersects with land use. 

My co-bloggers and I have only been at this for a few months but it has been great to keep the blog as a forum for sharing ideas among the land use community.  Thanks for reading and participating.  We'll be here at the blog, so keep checking us out during your holiday.  Best wishes!

Matt Festa

December 10, 2009 in Eminent Domain, First Amendment, Local Government, Property Rights, Takings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Lehavi on Fennell's Unbounded Home: Property Rights and Control of Social Groupings

Amnon Lehavi (Interdisciplinary Center Herzliyah - Radzyner School of Law) has posted another interesting-looking article, a review essay of Lee Anne Fennell's The Unbounded Home: Property Values Beyond Property Lines (Yale U. Press, 2009).  Lehavi's piece is titled Is Law Unbounded? Property Rights and Control of Social Groupings, forthcoming in Law & Social Inquiry, 2010.  The abstract:

This review essay follows up on a suggested model for resolving problems of neighborhood externalities and exclusionary associational patterns in today's metropolitan areas through a property rights regime of "alienable entitlements," as articulated by Lee Anne Fennell in The Unbounded Home (2009). The essay frames the model as promoting a groundbreaking approach to the fundamental quandary over the role of law as a tool for broad-based social change, which has been at the center of the law and society literature.

The essay asks if legal rules can fully absorb the multiple types of societal effects that influence the nature of contemporary homeownership. It then assesses more pointedly the normative desirability of controlling metropolitan-wide social exclusion through alienable property entitlements, identifying an internal tension between Fennell's support for a market-like process and her pursuit of an objective ideal that impacts the analysis. The essay concludes by suggesting that even if one accepts the tentative blueprint for addressing social engineering issues through alienable legal entitlements, it is unclear if such an approach would practically change the ways in which the social dynamics of groupings and exclusion currently take place.

This analysis aims at offering broader insights for socio-legal inquiries beyond the above particular themes of examination. Its central arguments are not limited to a certain ideological perspective - be it the promotion of social justice or of utilitarianism - or to a particular type of social concern. The essay aspires to broadly illuminate the complex ties between law and social studies, and the boundaries of law in controlling social conduct.

Matt Festa

December 10, 2009 in Books, Local Government, Property, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sic Utere Tuo

So I've been having this running dispute with my next door neighbors about their barking dogs, and last night from somewhere in the depths of my brain arose the phrase, "sic utere tuo ut allenum no laedas."  (Roughly translated, "use your property in a way that does not harm others."  Latin scholars, feel free to correct me.) First, I'm truly frightened that Latin phrases I learned in first year property can come back to haunt me in this way so long after the fact.  Second, how ironic to find myself in a middle of a personal situation involving property and land use while I am co-editor of this blog and while I'm working in a land use policy-based clinic!  So often we talk about these things in an academic sense, but occasionally we get to experience them in the human sense.

The issue with the dogs is indeed aggravating, but I'm hopeful we can negotiate ourselves through it.  Of course, there are always legal remedies, but despite being a lawyer (or because I am a lawyer) I find myself reluctant to pursue them.  Because of my work with environmental justice clients who are facing far more serious nuisances - such as extreme environmental pollution - I understand the human toll of involving legal mechanisms, such as lawsuits.  These mechanisms are unweildy and time consuming and can be emotionally exhausting.  I also understand (and one of my students has written on this blog about) how hard it can be to get the authorities to do the right thing.  So, we all struggle along attempting the negotiated solution, even as we ask for regulatory fixes for our clients that may or may not help.

Far better scholars than I have thought long and deep on this issue and may want to comment.  In the meantime, I'll just say you can get your own "Sic utere" shirt on-line, and here's hoping for more neighborly consideration everywhere.

Jamie Baker Roskie 

December 10, 2009 in Property Rights | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Of (Tiger) Woods and Trees and Land Use

Ben Barros points us from Property Prof Blog to an article by Christopher Beam in Slate's "Explainer" feature titled Stopping by Woods: Tiger Woods' car crash caused $200 worth of damage to a tree.  How do you measure that?

According to the article, it turns out that there is some methodology for valuation of trees as property.  It involves a number of factors that you may not find surprising: size, age, species, repair/replacement costs, aesthetics, neighborhood context, contribution to the (literally) underlying real estate value.  There is even a professional Council of Tree and Landscape Appriasers, which publishes the Guide for Plant Appraisal (9th ed.) that instructs one in the methodology of the Replacement Cost Method and the Trunk Formula Method.

This makes eminent sense to anyone involved with land use or real estate.  Trees are a significant contribution to both the hard value of real estate and the more subjective aspects of land ownership or use (beauty, sentimentality, shade).  Both builders and buyers today place a great deal of significance on the contribution of trees to the overall value of any particular piece of land.  It is also a matter of public interest, and tree ordinances have, um, sprouted up in many cities in the U.S. as an intergral component of land use planning.

But all of this is built on the anthropocentric presumption that a tree is in fact a thing that can be reduced to property and "owned" by humans.  Would it be possible to have . . . a tree that owned itself?  Most of you property law experts out there would say no.  But one U.S. city says--yes!  And UGA Prof. Jamie Roskie knows exactly where this is:

Athens, Georgia, of course.  You may have heard of Athens' famous Tree That Owns Itself.  It is a popular tourist attraction, dating from sometime between 1820 and 1832, when Colonel W.H. Jackson executed a deed purportedly conveying ownership of his favorite tree to . . . itself:

I, W. H. Jackson, of the county of Clarke, of the one part, and the oak tree . . . of the county of Clarke, of the other part: Witnesseth, That the said W. H. Jackson for and in consideration of the great affection which he bears said tree, and his great desire to see it protected has conveyed, and by these presents do convey unto the said oak tree entire possession of itself and of all land within eight feet of it on all sides.

Here we are (apparently the current tree is the "son" of the original):

Tree Owns Itself
I wouldn't recommend trying to use any of your fancy human-based property law theory, what with your common law and your learned treatises and whatnot, to mess with the Tree That Owns Itself.  The alleged deed may be lost, and there may be rules about capacity and so forth, but as a point of civic pride most Athenians will agree that the Tree does own itself.  It is accorded self-"ownership" rights through longstanding (if perhaps winking) local custom.  The real property records and plat book do not show the Tree as part of any adjacent property (it's in the public right of way).  Furthermore, Ol' Reliable (i.e., Wikipedia) cites a 2006 statement by county Landscape Administrator Roger Cauthen to the effect that it is the official position of the Athens-Clarke County government that the Tree does, in fact, own itself.  At any rate, it's legally protected as a historic landmark tree

Anyway, it's a good thing Tiger Woods wasn't living nearby in Athens, or else one of Prof. Roskie's former students might have had the chance to represent the Tree (or perhaps the Tree's recognized caretaker Athens Junior Ladies Garden Club as next friend) on contingency.

Matt Festa

December 10, 2009 in Aesthetic Regulation, Georgia, Historic Preservation, Local Government, Property, Real Estate Transactions | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Edward L. Glaeser, "What Makes Cities Great"

Edward L. Glaeser, an economics professor at Harvard, published this morning on the New York Times Economix Blog his thoughts about land use in the Big Apple.  Read his full article here.  Usually we tend to think of land use in broader terms--residential v. commercial v. mixed use, etc.--but Professor Glaeser turns his lens on the specific uses that take place in those zones, making the argument that reliance on single industries can destroy innovation and entrepreneurship (i.e., coal and Pittsburg, cars and Detroit).  If this is true, then perhaps the recent financial crisis helped New York City avoid an overconcentration in finance.  Natural resource abundance is another factor Glaeser evaluates.  Too much of one resource may not be a bad state of affairs for a city or a country, he argues, but too much dependence on that resource may ultimately lead to decline.

Will Cook, Charleston School of Law

December 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What Do Fewer Liens Mean?

The Orange County Register development blog has a new story suggesting that fewer legal disputes related to real estate construction is, in the big picture, actually a bad sign:

Mechanics liens are typically filed when contractors working on a real estate property — home or commercial, new or old — go unpaid for their services.

Trends in these liens filed often reflect both the level of construction work done as well as the general health and bill-paying abilities of the overall economy. Thus, the recent drop may say more about the near-dead construction industry vs. hinting at some improvement in the local business climate.

This is one of the stranger economic indicators I've seen to date.  I guess we should be rooting for more housing subcontractors to get stiffed in the payment of bills?

--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.

December 8, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Life in the shadow of industry"

Today our clients the Newtown Florist Club, and the Clinic, got some great coverage in the Gainesville (GA) Times.  This article, hopefully the first in a series, covers the impact of industry on the Newtown neighborhood, something I've discussed in a previous blog post and that one of my students also discussed in his guest post.  I'm very pleased with this coverage - this reporter, Ashley Fielding, has really gotten at the history and nuance of this complicated situation, which implicates zoning, public health, nuisance, race, class, community and economic development, and much more.  Who says newspaper reporting is a dead art?

Jamie Baker Roskie

December 7, 2009 in Community Design, Community Economic Development, Environmental Justice, Environmental Law, Georgia, Industrial Regulation, Local Government, Nuisance, Planning, Politics, Property, Race, Redevelopment, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bento, Low, Knaap, & Chakraborty on Housing Market Effects of Inclusionary Zoning

Another interesting article off the wire from Vicki Been's SSRN Property, Land Use, & Real Estate Law digest.  Antonio Bento (Cornell), Scott Lowe (Boise State), Gerrit-Jan Knaap (Maryland), and Arnab Chakraborty (Illinois) have posted Housing Market Effects of Inclusionary Zoning.  The abstract:

This article presents an empirical analysis of the effects of inclusionary zoning policies on housing prices and starts in California during the period from 1988 through 2005. The analysis compares cities with and without such policies and isolates the effects of inclusionary zoning programs by carefully controlling for spatial and temporal conditions, such as the neighborhood or school district within which the house is located and changing market conditions over time. The analysis found that inclusionary zoning policies had measurable effects on housing markets in jurisdictions that adopt them; specifically, the price of single-family houses increases and the size of single-family houses decreases. The analysis also found that, although the cities with such programs did not experience a significant reduction in the rate of single-family housing starts, they did experience a marginally significant increase in multifamily housing starts. The magnitude of this shift varied with the stringency of the inclusionary requirements. Finally, the analysis found that the size of market-rate houses in cities that adopted inclusionary zoning increased more slowly than in cities without such programs. The results are fully consistent with economic theory and demonstrate that inclusionary zoning policies do not come without costs.

Matt Festa

December 7, 2009 in Housing, Scholarship, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Epstein on Heller's Gridlock Economy

Richard Epstein has posted Heller's Gridlock Economy in Perspective: Why There is Too Little, Not Too Much, Private Property, reviewing Michael Heller, The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives (Basic Books, 2008).  The abstract:

This Article critiques Michael Heller’s important contribution in the Gridlock Economy. At no point does it take the position that gridlock, or the associated anticommons, is not a serious issue in the design of a legal system. But it does insist that gridlock is not the major source of social dislocation, or that private ownership is the major source of gridlock. More concretely, the articles examines the other important sources of economic distortion that are unrelated to economic gridlock from private action. These include the use of excessive government subsidies (as with health care), misguided government licenses (as with broadcast licenses); the unwise use of government power to create gridlock situations (as with employment law); the excessive role of government permitting (as with real estate development); and the use of creative private techniques to overcome gridlock (as with patent licensing as a way to combat the patent thicket). Thereafter, the Article explains how traditional common law rules did a better job in controlling for gridlock than many current initiatives, by narrowly defining the class of actionable harms to exclude competitive loss, blocked views, and hurt feelings. It closes with an explanation of how broad definitions of harm slow down decisions in the public sector, thereby impeding the use of the eminent domain power that could otherwise respond to gridlock issues.

Epstein on Heller.  Need I say more?  Check it out!

Matt Festa

December 7, 2009 in Eminent Domain, Property Rights, Real Estate Transactions, Scholarship, Takings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stevens' Condo on the Beach

From Supreme Court correspondent, Tony Mauro, in today's Blog of Legal Times as a follow-up to Justice Stevens' surprise recusal in Stop the Beach:

Was Stevens' Condo the Reason for Justice's Recusal in Fla. Property Rights Case?

by Tony Mauro

12-07-2009

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' surprise recusal on Wednesday in a Florida property rights case may have been triggered by media inquiries about Stevens' Fort Lauderdale property based on information provided by a group that filed a brief in the case.

The recusal came in Stop the Beach Renourishment Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which asked whether a state program aimed at restoring eroded beaches -- and a state court ruling interpreting it -- amounted to an unconstitutional taking. The replenished beach area belongs to the state which, property owners say, diminishes the value of their properties by turning beachfront houses into "beach view" properties.

Ordinarily, when a justice recuses in a case, that fact is known before oral argument, because the justice will already have stated his or her intention not to participate at the petition-granting stage.  Stevens participated in the case at earlier stages, so his absence at argument was unexpected.  "I was as surprised as anyone else when the chair was empty," said D. Kent Safriet of Hopping Green & Sims of Tallahassee, Fla., who argued for the property owners on Wednesday.

Stevens declined to discuss the matter, but a possible explanation is offered by Ilya Shapiro, senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, which filed a brief in the case on the side of property owners. Shapiro said that "a fan of Cato" he won't name sent him public documents about Stevens' condominium property in Fort Lauderdale. The documents indicate that the justice's property is within a renourishment zone similar to the property at issue in the case.

Shapiro said he did not file a recusal motion asking Stevens to bow out, because it "might seem self-serving." Conventional wisdom, Shapiro added, puts Stevens in the camp of justices who would approve of the government program, so "it seemed that not having him in the case would help the property owners."

Instead, Shapiro sent the material to several journalists, at least one of whom, he said, conveyed the information to Stevens and asked for comment, without success. Nothing more was heard on the subject until the argument began with Stevens not on the bench.

Footnote: Ten years ago, Stevens recused in another case that could have affected property he owns. He did not participate when the Court denied review of a "right to farm" statute in Iowa, where he owned a 200-acre farm.

This article first appeared on The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.

Will Cook, Charleston School of Law

December 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Can the Polis Live Again?

Josh Martin of the Coastal Conservation League shared with me over the weekend a thought-provoking article by Michael Knox Beran, "Can the Polis Live Again?  The Modern World has Withered Public Space and its Virtues."  For some deep thinking about the nature and definition of public space, check out Beran's article in City Journal (Vol. 19, No. 4), or click here for a link to Beran's full text on City Journal's website.  For structural constitutional law and government aficionados, Beran also offers observations related to the debate between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists in regards to public space.  (NOTE:  Matt Festa posted previously on this topic.  Please click here for a link to his observations.)

A sample is set forth here:

"The American version of the struggle between city-state and nation-state dates back to the 1780s, when the Federalists succeeded in putting the national Constitution in place over the objections of the anti-Federalists. There is little doubt that the Federalists were right. Like Arendt, the anti-Federalists, who sought to preserve the politics of the polis, would have been wiser to point not to the political arrangements of the old public spaces but to their cultural excellence.

It was left to Thomas Jefferson to show that it was possible to preserve the public virtues within a nation-state. To protect civic artistry in a changing America, Jefferson sought to re-create the civic life he had known in his youth. As a college student in colonial Williamsburg, he had been drawn into little communities of sympathetic scholarship that he would always characterize in Athenian terms: “They were truly Attic societies.” It was in communities of this kind, he believed, that men’s civic impulses could flourish as they could not in a larger space."

Special thanks to Josh (and Matt) for sharing this article with us.

Will Cook, Charleston School of Law

December 7, 2009 in New Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Beware: "Zombie Buildings Lurk Ahead"...

Well, the housing crisis now has a new addition to the default lexicon:  Zombie Buildings.

Sounds pretty scary, eh?

Actually, this type of zombie might be even worse than the Night of the Living Dead version. 

Why?  Because these ghouls are very real. 

Crain's has more:

Without a financial restructuring, the properties are likely to join a new trend—“zombie buildings,” which can't compete for new tenants because they lack the money to cover brokers' commissions and interior office reconstruction.

The number of zombie buildings in the Chicago area is likely to grow in 2010, according to a forecast by California-based Grubb & Ellis. For landlords, the trend means even top-quality office properties are likely to divide themselves into “haves” and “have-nots,” with the latter seeing their vacancy rates worsen because of the lack of financing.

Worst of all, the main holder of the mortgages for these creatures is none other than the Federal Reserve (through one of its legally-dubious Maiden Lane LLC entities).

Meaning that, this species of zombie building is the cruelest of all: the dreaded taxpayer owned zombie.

--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.

December 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)