May 22, 2018

State Tackles Vacant Property Blight With Land Bank

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State Tackles Vacant Property Blight With Land Bank

Pennsylvania lawmakers approved a bill aimed at reducing the number of vacant, distressed properties that plague the state. The bill establishes a public “land bank” for acquiring, managing, and developing the abandoned distressed properties, giving the properties a new life. The new law is being touted as an innovative way to handle the number of distressed properties that pose an eyesore to neighborhoods. 

"The overall mission of a land bank is to find new and responsible owners to acquire distressed properties, while engaging the market on terms that the market can actually absorb," says State Sen. Gene Yaw, who chairs the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee. "Essentially, a land bank is the intermediary between the previous owners of an abandoned or tax delinquent property and new responsible owners who will contribute in a beneficial way to surrounding properties of an area."

Pennsylvania has about 300,000 vacant and abandoned properties. Under the new bill, these properties can now more easily be transformed into homes, shops, and even gardens, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. 

Once the land has been deeded to the land bank, the city can package the parcels for sale. The city also will be able to sell the properties for less than market value if “it believes a developer’s overall project will add value to a neighborhood,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

So far, in Philadelphia, “a few hundred people” already have made requests to acquire the vacant lots next to their homes to use as side yards, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. 

Source: “Smarter Use of Properties Taking Root,” The Philadelphia Inquirer (Oct. 29, 2012) and “State Senate Approves Landmark ‘Land Bank’ Legislation" (Oct. 16, 2012)