Tag: Land banking

Pennsylvania Governor signs Land Bank Act in to law

Last week Pennsylvania passed legislation that will equip communities in the state with a proven tool for fighting blight and vacancy and catalyzing economic development.

HB 1682, now known as the Land Bank Act, passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in February and the Senate in October before finally being signed by Governor Tom Corbett on October 24, 2012.

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.

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Pennsylvania’s land bank bill to come before the State Senate

A land bank can make reusing vacant buand put them back into usefficient. Image from Take Back Vacant Land.

Members of the Pennsylvania State Senate will vote this week on proposed legislation that would make it easier to buy and redevelop blighted properties in the state.

HB 1682 would enable local leaders in Pennsylvania to establish land banks, entities that can hold and manage vacant properties to help get properties into the hands of responsible new owners more quickly. The bill passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in February and now awaits consideration by the Pennsylvania State Senate.

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Smart growth news – May 18, 2012

Top Stories

Erie and Chautauqua counties to get state land bank
Buffalo News (NY) – May 17, 2012
The Empire State Development Corp. on Thursday approved a joint application from Erie County and the cities of Buffalo, Lackawanna and Tonawanda, as well as one from Chautauqua County, giving the area the ability to start two of the state’s first land banks.

City hopes to become more sustainable, vibrant with bicycling
Dayton Daily News (OH) – May 17, 2012
Dayton is planning on spending $12.1 million through 2018 — most from federal and state money — on street repair, and road reconstruction and repaving that includes adding bike lanes or making improvements to bike and pedestrian paths.

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Fighting blight in Pennsylvania: State House of Representatives passes land bank bill

In Pennsylvania today, more than 300,000 properties stand vacant. These properties cost municipalities millions of dollars each year in maintenance costs and even more in lost revenue. In Philadelphia alone – which has some 40,000 vacant properties – the City pays $20 million each year just to maintain those properties.

Last week, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives took a major step toward turning the state’s vacant properties back into homes and businesses. On Wednesday the House passed HB 1682, a bill that would allow counties and municipalities in Pennsylvania to create land banks. Land banks are entities that can hold and manage vacant, abandoned and foreclosed properties, making it faster, easier and cheaper for prospective new owners to purchase these properties and get them back into productive re-use.

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The high cost of vacant homes: a new report from GAO

In 2010, there were 10.3 million vacant homes in America. Many are vacant as a result of foreclosure, and they’re costing municipalities at a time when public budgets are already strained to the breaking point.

A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examines trends in the number of vacant properties, how they relate to the recent increase in foreclosures, the cost of maintaining and administering these properties and strategies for coping with the crises. GAO analyzed Census Bureau vacancy data and data on property maintenance costs from the Federal Housing Administration and two housing-related government-sponsored enterprises. The Office conducted case studies in nine cities selected to provide a range of local economic and housing conditions, rates of foreclosure, and geographic locations.

For many cities, vacant and foreclosed properties are more than just another costly expense. Tending to these properties costs money, but neglecting them can cost far more, and the report from GAO makes clear the scope of this problem. The Huffington Post explained the dilemma vacant properties pose:

While the upkeep and maintenance of a vacant home is technically the responsibility of either the homeowner or the mortgage owner, in practice it often falls to the town, which has to pay for basic services – like cutting the grass, boarding up windows and draining swimming pools – to keep the property from falling into total disrepair. Alternatively, the town can have the vacant property demolished [but] either way, the tab for cities and towns is often high. Detroit, for example, has paid $20 million to demolish 4,000 properties in the past two and a half years, the GAO found.

Communities incur costs in other ways as well. The GAO noted that vacant homes are often associated with crime and accidental fires, which require the attention of police and fire departments, thus tying up city resources. And cities often see their property taxes fall as vacant homes drive down the value of homes around them.

While vacant properties pose serious challenges to the communities faced with them, cities and states are already using great strategies to turn these properties into assets. Land banks are public authorities created to acquire, hold, manage and develop vacant properties. Land banks aim to convert vacant properties that have been neglected by the open market into productive use, and are already in use in Ohio and New York. Land banks are a great way for municipalities to deal with the high cost of vacant homes and support their local economy in the process.

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Smart growth news – November 22

A land bank helped Flint, Michigan, expert says, and could help New York cities, too
The Business Review (N.Y.), November 22, 2011
Daniel T. Kildee, founder of the Genesee County Land Bank in Michigan, told a group of about 80 public and private sector officials in Albany, New York, that land banks can help local counties, cities and towns make better use of tax-foreclosed properties.

Valley gets $3.4 million to study development
The Morning Call (Pa.), November 21, 2011
Developers have long tried to lure commute-weary homebuyers with signs that say “If you lived here you’d be home by now.” A consortium of Lehigh Valley planning groups has been awarded $3.4 million by the federal government to try to make that dream — of living closer to work and enjoying an improved quality of life — reachable for more people.

N.J. gets $5 million HUD grant for regional planning
The Star-Ledger (N.J.), November 21, 2011
Federal officials today awarded New Jersey a $5 million grant to develop regional economic plans for 13 northern counties to attract businesses and jobs to areas with solid residential communities and good transportation systems.

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Cleveland area land bank continues to innovate

Last year, we wrote about a first-of-its-kind agreement forged by the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Land Bank and Fannie Mae, the national mortgage lender that owns dozens of foreclosed properties in Ohio. The Cuyahoga County Land Bank, like other land banks across the country, is a quasi-governmental entity with the capacity to attain and manage vacant properties in the greater Cleveland area.

Through that partnership, Fannie Mae agreed to sell its most troubled foreclosed homes to the Land Bank for a nominal fee, and to help cover the costs of demolition for properties that were too far gone for the land bank to salvage.

Since that time, the Cuyahoga County Land Bank has formalized relationships with a handful of additional lenders. Bank of America and Wells Fargo both joined the group this summer, pledging to donate vacant and foreclosed homes to the Land Bank and to help pay demolition costs ranging from $3,500 to $7,500.

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Land Bank Act passes New York legislature; awaits Governor Cuomo’s signature

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.”


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New book a resource for communities facing foreclosures, blight

The Center for Community Progress is pleased to release a new book, Land Banks and Land Banking, by CCP co-founder and General Counsel Frank Alexander. The new book offers public officials and community leaders a step-by-step guide for taking control of problem properties and then leveraging them to spur smart development and meet community needs.

With inventories of vacant and abandoned properties at unprecedented levels, Alexander argues that empty lots and unoccupied buildings are not nuisances, as they often seem to be, but are instead potential resources for fueling economic recovery, driving community development and strengthening real estate markets. As the author explains, land banks have emerged as a key tool for urban planners, especially in response to the mortgage crisis. Land banking gives communities control of the unused land resources within their borders and helps leaders create catalytic opportunities for new development when private sector support is absent.

Today there are 79 land banking initiatives across the country, with a number of additional land banking bills up for consideration in state legislatures. Vacant properties acquired, developed, restored and/or resold by land banking authorities have already catalyzed millions of dollars in new private investments.

Download a free copy of Land Banks and Land Banking, or get a first edition copy at the 2011 Land Bank Conference, going on this week in Detroit, MI, June 5-7, 2011. Learn more at www.communityprogress.net.

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Register now for the 2011 Land Bank Conference in Detroit, MI

In many places across the country, land banking is becoming an integral part of community revitalization efforts, especially as America’s cities and towns have struggled to keep ahead of the foreclosure crisis and the resulting economic impacts over the past few years. Today more communities than ever are developing and strengthening land banking efforts to increase affordable housing, create market-based development opportunities, and implement alternative land reuses.

The Center for Community Progress invites elected officials, business owners, developers and anyone else interested in land banking issues to the 2011 Land Bank Conference from June 5-7 in Detroit, MI. The conference will help participants identify how land banking and tax foreclosure strategies can catalyze development of effective solutions to unlocking the value of vacant, abandoned and problem properties. Highlights of this two-day event include training seminars, breakout sessions, bus tours and networking opportunities.

The conference attracts hundreds of professionals from across the country and from diverse backgrounds including: elected officials, land bank staff and board members, for-profit and non-profit developers and the real estate industry, community foundations, greening initiatives, neighborhood and civic leaders, and local and state government officials.

Click here for registration and more information.

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