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Updated: Nov 6, 2018

The sun is still shining in Greenville, SC, but those bands of clouds keep you ever aware of the devastation that's happening a short drive away. Those clouds are also an ominous indication of the possible devastation heading this way.

Over the next several day's hurricane Florence is going to slowly push through most of South Carolina and a lot of North Carolina. Luckily Florence was downgraded to a category 1 before hitting shore, but it will leave devastating flooding in its path and the flooding from the coast to Columbia could be catastrophic.

In the aftermath of the storm, the people of North and South Carolina will do what they have always done in the face of tragedy. We will grieve for our personal losses of life and property. We will mourn with and comfort our neighbors who have suffered. Then in the blink of an eye, the rebuilding will begin. Before the ground is dry we will begin the process of putting our homes and cities back together. In the wake of these kinds of tragedy's it can be impossible to see an opportunity but it is only this kind of event that can produce a chance for change on this scale.

Cities in South and North Carolina are plagued with old retail centers in desperate need of being demolished or upgraded. This type of natural disaster represents one of the few opportunities where the owners of these buildings will have an incentive to take action.

If your town has an eyesore of a building that needs to be revitalized or demolished the first thing city leaders need to understand is the lack of incentive or motivation that landlords have to put money back into these properties.

The upside to this equation is that most often the owners are local or regional which means they can be easily contacted. The downside is that for most of these landlords there is little incentive for them to put any money back into the properties. The usual course of action for these landlords is to let the property sit there with one or two low paying tenants and only fix what is absolutely necessary. Will putting a new facade on the building and upgrading the lighting and resurfacing the parking lot and updating the wiring bring them more tenants or higher rent value? Yes, but it will probably not be enough to offset the capital put into these building. Anything these landlords do will probably result in a loss for the foreseeable future.

It would take an act of God to fix this type of situation, and according to insurance agents everywhere, that act is happening this very moment. Hurricane Florence, while a massive tragedy in the making will also bring an opportunity for many communities to finally do something about these old retail buildings. The insurance money paid out to the landlords for the damage done to these buildings represents the only decent chance most of these properties have to be upgraded for perhaps a decade or more.

City leaders need to have a list of key properties that which need to be torn down or revitalized. They need to have contact information for the owners and they need to have some suggestions and plans which they can sell to these landlords. Unless a city is already prepared, these types of opportunities will get missed in the chaos of getting basic services back to a community.

Let R.E.D City Planning help. We can give you an assessment of what key properties need to be addressed in your town. We can help city leaders prepare a realistic plan for the property that would help the community as a whole, and then we can help sell this plan to the landlord while they still have an insurance check in hand.

R.E.D City Planning can be in your town next week to get this process started. City leaders and citizens are going to be busy putting everyday life back together so call or email R.E.D City Planning and let us help you find opportunity after the tragedy.

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