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Empty buildings: Eyesore or untapped potential?

Sarah Alvarez
An empty building in Elk Grove Village, IL. Cities across the Midwest are faced with large amounts of abandoned and empty buildings.

An abandoned building can be a potent symbol of a depressed area or a bad economy. Ruin porn has been decried and criticized as unhelpful voyeurism, but the pictures of crumbling buildings in places like Gary, Indiana and Detroit, MI continue to multiply on photo sharing sites across the web.

Perhaps it is too hard for aspiring photographers to resist. The Midwest is littered with abandoned property. Michigan and Illinois have home foreclosure rates among the highest in the country, with Ohio following not far behind. For commercial real estate, everything from strip malls to old factories to office buildings, the picture is not much better.

Despite the tough market, redevelopment is happening. Cities, private developers, even individuals with vision are trying to take advantage of a buyer’s market.  But, some of these buildings will never be revived, being left empty or demolished. We want to know about, and chronicle, this transformation of the landscape.

Contribute to our coverage.  What do you think makes a building worth saving? Tell us if there is an abandoned building in your neighborhood that drives you crazy. If you are redeveloping an old building, we are interested in how it’s going. And we want to see the transformation. Send us your pictures of abandoned buildings in your area, and rehabilitated ones.