Analysis of factors contributing to abandoned residential developments using remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS)

Christopher Post, Brian Ritter, Emre Akturk, Amy Breedlove, Russell Buchanan, Celestine Che, Jacob Fravel, Lynn Hammett, Thomas Kirby, Elena Mikhailova, Xin Qiao, James Short, Michael Stella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


New residential developments in the Southeastern United States peaked in early 2006, but since then declined leaving numerous residential developments stalled in various stages of construction. The status of 119 previously identified (2009) abandoned residential housing developments was reinvestigated in 2013 using the most current available high-resolution aerial photography with a randomly selected number of sites (40) in Greenville, Pickens and Spartanburg Counties in South Carolina. The original land cover before any housing developments was determined based on historical infrared aerial imagery (1999). Development sites were categorized based on the development status: no change, active development or completed development. Site locations were used to determine network distance to major cities and schools to determine if location is related to current development status. Historical aerial photos showed that the majority of land originally developed was forest land. Site visits indicated that 24 out of 40 sites previously identified as abandoned are in various stages of recent construction (three out of five in Pickens County, three out of 15 in Spartanburg County and 18 out of 20 in Greenville County). Of the 19 sites that were labeled as active through a field visit 15 were positively identified as active by using the aerial imagery. Sites with recent construction were closest to schools, but distance to urban centers was not a factor. This study suggests that proximity to schools may be a driving factor in restarting previously abandoned developments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-713
Number of pages13
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 21 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerial photos
  • Construction
  • Land classification
  • Real estate
  • Spatial patterns
  • Sprawl
  • Urban
  • Urban–rural interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Urban Studies


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