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Rick Reinhard

The Lakelands Institute

Rick Reinhard is principal of Niagara Consulting and associate at the Lakelands Institute. He served public-private economic-development partnerships and city governments for 30 years before working as an administrator for the United Methodist Church. He is co-author of the May 5, 2023, article in Planning Magazine, “Transforming Empty Churches Into Affordable Housing Takes More Than a Leap of Faith.”

Reinhard’s previous positions include serving as chief administrative officer of the United Methodist Church's General Board of Church and Society, president of Central Atlanta Progress, chief executive of the Ilex Urban Regeneration Co. in Derry, Northern Ireland, and chief of staff to the mayor of Buffalo, N.Y. He can be reached at

Houses of worship are experiencing a great emptying, becoming disconnected from their communities as congregations shrink. Jane Jacobs had some ideas that could help churches and their cities thrive.
Houses of worship own billions worth of empty, deteriorating or underused real estate. Some local governments and denominations are moving to carve it into badly needed housing, but there are plenty of obstacles.
Across the country, houses of worship are shuttering by the thousands. Municipalities have a role in finding new uses for abandoned buildings that have long anchored communities and neighborhoods.