Downturn leaves $billions in empty and unfinished development in U.S. and abroad

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While we would all like to see Ballpark Village under construction and the continued renaissance of many city neighborhoods, I think we may have dodged the larger of the two bullets we could choose. Significant sites across the U.S. and around the world are half-built without a clear future.

An interesting read: Zombie Banks Build Ghost Towers

[In America we] are watching as our own ghosts materialize. Smaller cities like Minneapolis; Charlottesville, Va.; and Sacramento, Calif.; are all dealing with half-finished hotels or shopping centers, boarded up as developers’ rationale and cash evaporated. There are, of course, acres of vacant homes all over Florida’s swamplands and Las Vegas’ deserts. These exurban projects could easily become ghost towns if credit to save them is not freed up. And the same credit crunch is making the prospect of ghost towers in our major cities very real.

While some stalled developments should be completed and are in demand only to be stuck in the financing quagmire, other developments should not be rescued. The vacant homes in Florida (see Lehigh Acres) and Las Vegas should be allowed to fail. Further manipulation of real estate values in such overblown markets will only lead to decades of stalled development and cement the poor decisions of the past decade.

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