What we have here is a failure of the imagination.
I know of more than one town in the USA with at least 500 properties in foreclosure. Whole neighbourhoods could be bought for O(10⁴) dollars. But what could you do with such places that would make money?
Laws prohibit some kinds of things.
- You couldn’t charge people admission to smash and burn the things in the houses.
- In fact every house you buy would saddle you with responsibilities that would require at least a few administrative people to watch over and help you comply with.
- You couldn’t grow cash crops like pot inside the houses.
- It would be too expensive to demolish the houses to justify the meager returns on outdoor crops.
- You couldn’t sell or give the houses to Haitians, Hondurans, Nicaraguans, or other people who would be super happy to just have a US quality house over their heads.
- If you gave the houses to homeless charities, the charity would be saddled with upkeep and accounting/legal costs.
It would also be difficult to get enough momentum behind an artists’ colony. B&B’s or retreats would take way too much money & effort for the probable payoff (who is going to do a retreat in Detroit?).
But there are some real resources that are under-utilized in these places.
- Already constructed houses.
- Hooked up with electricity.
- Power lines and roads around them.
- Land — cheap land.
There’s got to be something that someone could do with these dead spaces.
Just need some good ideas, willpower, inspiration, vision.