The new legislation enables municipalities in Pennsylvania to create land banks, local entities that can hold and manage vacant properties and direct their reuse and redevelopment. Land banks make it easier and cheaper for prospective buyers to redevelop blighted properties into homes and businesses, ultimately reversing cycles of economic decline and getting delinquent properties back on municipal tax rolls.
On Friday, Smart Growth America participated in a webinar to highlight our new resource for state transportation officials, released recently in partnership with the State Smart Transportation Initiative.
Late last week, in a victory for smart growth advocates across the state, the New York State legislature passed the Land Bank Act (A373A/S663A). Now awaiting signature into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the legislation would allow towns and cities in New York State to create land banks – entities that can hold and manage vacant and abandoned properties and return them to productive use.
New York’s Land Bank Act would provide major benefits to local economies by reversing cycles of decline and improving property values in communities across the state. Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, the bill’s lead sponsor in the Assembly, described the positive economic impacts land banks can provide in a recent press release about the bill:
“Just as one vacant building can set off a cycle of contagious blight, with declining property values leading to further abandonments, a smart redevelopment plan, implemented by a land bank that can acquire, hold and assemble parcels of land for development, green space, or public works projects can reverse this non-virtuous cycle. Their work adds value to surrounding properties and strengthens local real estate markets.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a new series of investments to assess and clean up abandoned industrial and commercial properties across the country. Brownfield grants can serve as vital tools for struggling communities looking to revitalize by providing some of the resources necessary to redevelop contaminated properties, create jobs, and spur local economic growth. This round of EPA grants will include more than $76 million in funds distributed to a number of innovative efforts in communities in 40 states.
The Tamiami Trail Initiative in western Florida is one of these efforts. The Tamiami Trail Scenic Highway (US Highway 41) runs through Sarasota and Manatee counties and is plagued by more than 500 petroleum brownfields and a number of other contaminated properties. The revitalization initiative, which started in 2009, has brought together a diverse group of stakeholders – including government, nonprofits, business groups, environmental consultants, property owners, and community members – to inventory and cleanup petroleum sites along the corridor and help spur economic development opportunities in the process.
The Tamiami Trail Initiative is part of a growing trend among communities across the country using a corridor-wide approach to redevelop abandoned and vacant properties contaminated by petroleum and other hazardous chemicals. By planning to remediate a cluster of sites along a given transportation corridor – rather than one at a time – communities like those along the Tamiami Trail are able to create an economy of scale that helps leverage resources and overcome many of the barriers associated with smaller scale revitalization efforts.
For more information about the Tamiami Trail or brownfield grants and revitalization projects, visit EPA.gov.