What Is the True Value of a Vacant or Abandoned Building?

Bronzeville Abandoned Building

The building above may look nondescript, but is actually in a highly favorable location across the street from Shops and Lofts on 47 in the Bronzeville area of Chicago’s Near South Side. Photo Credit: Audrey F. Henderson, all rights reserved.

Any real estate agent or Realtor can tell you that the three most important factors in determining the potential value of a particular parcel of real estate are, in order: location, location, location. Location can trump other aspects of a structure, including whether it is occupied and its state of (dis)repair. In fact, location plays a large role in determining whether a decrepit building is worthy of the financial investment necessary to reclaim it for productive use, assuming of course that it is structurally sound.

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Dear Subway Sandwich Fairy: Thank You for Paying It Forward

The Subway Sandwich Fairy was here!

“Random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” in the form of a tray of sandwiches half-submerged in snow. Photo Credit: Audrey F. Henderson — All Rights Reserved

Dear Subway Sandwich Fairy:

I hope you don’t mind that I’ve given you this nickname. It seems fitting given the tray of fifteen Subway sandwiches in a sealed container that you left on a bench at Chase Plaza in the middle of downtown Chicago. I have no idea who you really are, but I know one important thing about you: you are a kind, caring person who wishes to preserve the privacy and dignity of those hungry people who happen to consume one or more of those sandwiches.

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Benefits of High-Speed Rail

America’s Love Affair — with Its Cars

It’s a well known fact that Americans love their cars.  However, with continued fluctuation in gasoline prices and increasingly congested highways, many Americans are becoming more receptive to giving up their cars – or at least trading the daily commute to and from work – for a trip where someone else does the driving. One possible solution that addresses both high gas prices and clogged roadways is high-speed rail.

Highway Traffic

America’s love affair with the automobile routinely results in clogged highway traffic, making the term “rush hour” an ironic misnomer. Photo credit: Audrey F. Henderson, all rights reserved.

In Europe and Asia, where high-speed rail is well established, countries and individual riders alike have enjoyed far ranging benefits as a result  – economic, social, environmental and in added convenience. High-speed rail has also begun to gain traction in the United States. The Obama administration has been especially enthusiastic about high-speed rail, allocating millions of dollars to its expansion. Read the rest of this entry »


Will Underwater Mortgages Sink the Economy?

Avoid Foreclosure

Short sales and strategic default allow desperate homeowners to escape the financial burden of underwater mortgages . Photo credit: Audrey F. Henderson, all rights reserved.

The Housing Market and the Economy

Before the housing market crisis threatened the collapse of the American economy, housing prices formed the foundation of an apparent economic boom. Unfortunately, much of that boom was built on a bubble of speculation, in the housing market and elsewhere. When the bubble burst, the economy slid into a deep recession not seen since the days of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

The economy has technically been in recovery since 2009, and many large corporations, along with Wall Street, have enjoyed record profits and all time highs. However, many sectors, especially employment and housing, have lagged far behind. One of the major factors dragging the pace of the recovery is the high number of underwater mortgages. Unless and until America solves its housing problem once and for all, it’s difficult to imagine an economy that truly feels like a recovery for everyday Americans. Read the rest of this entry »