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Vacant Buildings and Lots
September 2010

Vacant Buildings and Lots
A property is usually considered vacant by a city when it has been abandoned, been inspected and found to not meet city building codes, or is a public safety or health hazard. Like most cities, St. Paul and Minneapolis have ordinances about vacant buildings and lots. For example, in St. Paul owners must register these buildings and lots with the Department of Safety and Inspections if the building/property is vacant and at least one of the following:

  • not locked
  • dangerous
  • has many housing or building code violations
  • stays empty for more than a year and there is an order to correct a nuisance condition
  • secured in an unusual way
  • condemned
  • condemned and illegally occupied

Why are Vacant Buildings and Lots a Concern?
Properties may be more likely to become vacant during difficult economic times, such as the current recession. Vacant properties in urban areas may be associated with increased crime rates, decreased property values, and negative influence on the quality of life for residents in the surrounding neighborhood. Vacant buildings and lots may have a greater effect on people who are house-bound because they are elderly, disabled, or unemployed.

Vacant lots and buildings also can be opportunities for positive change because they can be transformed into community gardens, playgrounds, and new residential or commercial buildings. Sometimes this occurs “unofficially,” such as when neighbors use a vacant lot for gardening, or children play in it without permission of the landowner or city. Reusing vacant properties in urban areas can also reduce the pressure for new suburbs, preventing or slowing urban sprawl.

What the Map Shows
As of August 2010, there were 873 vacant lots in the Central Corridor, ranging in size from a very small part of an acre to almost 10 acres in size. This is equal to 5% of all lots in the Central Corridor. Together, these vacant lots cover an area of 290 acres, or about 4% of all land in the Central Corridor. The vast majority of the vacant properties (75%) are zoned for residential use (see map).

Some lots may have been developed since the data was collected but are still marked “vacant” in the city and Metropolitan Council databases. Other lots that are currently vacant may not have been correctly identified in the databases. This is more likely now because of the economy and foreclosure rates. While these databases are the best sources available, they may not be entirely accurate.

Printable information sheet, with maps: Vacant Buildings and Lots (PDF: 281KB/2 pages)

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Click on the map below for a larger image

Map of vacant lots in the Central Corridor, August 2010


Updated Friday, April 05, 2013 at 10:14AM