Using neighborhood characteristics to predict vacancy types: Comparing multi-scale conditions surrounding existing vacant lots
Vacant and abandoned land can be public eyesores that can potentially result in neighborhood distress in the long term. In some cases, the contextual conditions of a neighborhood have been shown to have more of a negative effect on communities than the vacant property itself. Maximum opportunities to actually reuse vacant and abandoned land is known to primarily exist in cases where the surrounding area has locational benefits or when local economic conditions are hopeful. This study examines and compares neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics around vacant lots in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, to identify spatial heterogeneity within vacancy types and neighborhood characteristics. Specifically, we examine 1) if the socioeconomic characteristics of a neighborhood can predict existing vacant lots and 2) what neighborhood characteristics are associated with certain vacant lot types. Three logistic regressions were tested with different buffers around each vacant lot, and a total of eighteen regressions were performed to capture the effects on six vacancy types. Results suggest that there are various types of vacancies interacting differently at the neighborhood scale, and that a large-scale neighborhood context matters when predicting vacancy types. The results also indicate three salient points. First, minority populations are a strong predictor of residential and commercial vacancies. Second, high-income areas tend to predict vacancies with potential investment opportunities or vacancies as a part of an existing park or recreational system. Third, vacant properties designated for institutional land uses tend to be found in lower-income areas, yet, not necessarily in areas with high minority populations. Managing and repurposing vacant and abandoned land should be handled more progressively with a better understanding of the socioeconomic characteristics of neighborhoods. Further, examining vacancy types by community can be a way to diagnose potential neighborhood risks associated with vacant and abandoned land.