Brett Blume (@brettblumekmox)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Does your city have a lot of vacant buildings? Yeah, there’s an app for that.

In fact, residents of St. Louis’ Dutchtown neighborhood are learning how to use the Loveland app so more vacant properties can be identified faster.

“We have a pre-loaded survey that people will be able to open the app on their phone, take a picture of the building and answer a series of questions about the status,” said Amanda Colon-Smith, Dutchtown South Community Corporation (DSCC) program director. “How’s the roof? Are the weeds overgrown? Does it look like it needs to be re-boarded back up?”

Two teams of Americorps volunteers got the process started over the summer by surveying nearly 32,000 parcels of land using Loveland – a unique mobile app paid for by the city.

They documented the conditions of the buildings and took photographs to help create a new database.

“We’re using the information collected by volunteers and residents to establish a comprehensive set of data about our neighborhoods and communities to better identify opportunities, engage the community, and collaborate on innovative strategies to turn vacancy to vibrancy,” Mayor Francis Slay said. “I want to thank the DSCC and residents for being community leaders by taking part in this effort with us.”

Colon-Smith explained that by training community volunteers, they hope to be able to update the database at least every three months.

“People know what’s going on on their blocks,” she pointed out. “And so this app allows it to be very easy and quick. We’ll be providing the log-ins so that it’s all fed into one central map. As soon as they do it, it comes right up into the database.”

Use of the Loveland app and implementing the database are pieces of Mayor Slay’s ongoing effort to tackle vacancy and abandonment, according to a statement from city hall.

That effort also includes:

  • Selection in the Community Process Leadership Institute has provided technical assistance to the city.
  •  “Mow to Own” allows city residents to take immediate ownership of LRA (Land Reutilization Authority) owned parcels adjacent to their property if the resident agrees to continuously maintain them.
  • The city brought in Fresh Coat Capital to plant tree farms on 42 vacant LRA owned lots. Mow to Own and the tree farms also fit into City Hall’s Sustainability Action Agency on Urban Character, Vitality & Ecology in making LRA land available at no cost for productive reuse of the land
  • The city is partnering with the Metropolitan Sewer District to demolish roughly 1,600 of the worst abandoned buildings over the next five years

St. Louis residents are encouraged to report vacancy conditions, especially if a building needs to be securely boarded, to the Citizens Service Bureau at (314) 622-4800. Tweets can also be sent to @stlcsb.

(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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