May 27, 2018

Cook County Considers Creating Largest Land Bank

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Cook County Considers Creating Largest Land Bank

The Chicago area is investigating forming a land bank that would “acquire, manage, and repurpose” vacant and abandoned properties for a countywide area, the Chicago Tribune reports. 

Cook County is drawing up plans for the formation of a land bank, which would likely become the largest land bank in the country on mere population and inventory, says MarySue Barrett, the chairwoman of the plan's advisory committee and president of the Metropolitan Planning Council. 

“We’re driven by the urgency of returning parcels to public use,” Barrett says.

The land bank would take on possession of vacant or abandoned properties through “direct purchases, no-cash bids at scavenger tax sales, and noncash transfers from government entities and lenders,” The Chicago Tribune reports. “The properties would be held tax-free in a trust and transferred to a new owner with agreed-upon redevelopment plans.”  

Some properties would be transferred to adjacent neighbors and some will be grouped and transferred to developers for commercial purposes, The Chicago Tribune reports.

In its first year, the land bank committee expects it would manage about 850 properties. The committee expects that 70 percent of those properties would be donated by banks and the remainder would be acquired. Also, the committee estimates—based on data from other land banks in the country—that about 18 percent of the properties would need to be demolished.

More than 80 local governments in 23 states currently have land banks or something similar, according to the committee’s research.

Cook County’s land bank is still in its formation stages and still requires the Cook County Board approval.

Source: “Plan Could Revitalize Distressed Properties,” Chicago Tribune (Dec. 2, 2012)