Urban Ruins

I posted these pictures I took in my neighborhood on facebook.
The idea began when the other day I thought of a place I used to go whenever I needed a new plug attached to a space heater or to clean a portable cassette tape player, and well, I looked for this place and I guess they haven’t been open for a while.
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There are some amazing “urban ruins” made out of very familiar places around me.
I didn’t anticipate this, but I’ve had friends disturbed and angered by these pictures, and seeking to explain them in some sort of Fox News way. Reality bites, but there is no Fox News explanation – not even an MSNBC explanation. MSNBC just takes a side just for the sake of taking a side and paying attention to them leads you on yet another wild goose chase when trying to figure out what’s happening, the higher end of MSNBC (The Rachel wing) excepted.
These buildings in ruin are owned by absentee owners, which today are faceless outfits serving investors who wish only profit. These are assets. To make them worthwhile as leased properties, they’d need to be kept up while somehow charging lease amounts those who would locate here could afford. That’s not the business model, though it could be, if, say, government were to subsidize the leases or the upkeep, provide tax write-offs, etc., and make proper upkeep profitable.
As of now, more money exists in liquidation – and government funding may even favor liquidation and demolition. The buildings will be demolished and be replaced by a big box store or some other major chain retailer – somebody with backing and maybe even their property taxes waived in exchange for removing the eyesores.
I’ve heard fanciful discussions on how to cut absentee owners from their properties – but even Berkeley, California has not been able to prevent these asset hogs from moving in snapping up space. If there is one place where that could have happened, it was Berkeley, which in 1981 stood as a 60s time warp, thanks to rent control and laws that forbade absentee ownership. At one time the hottest retail space in California was still occupied by second hand clothing and record stores and laid back eateries that let students just hang out while making no purchases! Pockets of resistance in Berkeley remain, but by and large, Berkeley is a very different place today.

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