Philadelphia May Establish "Land Bank"

The City of Philadelphia plans to consolidate its inventory of distressed real estate totaling an estimated 40,000 abandoned houses, lots and commercial buildings.  The properties will be grouped into "land banks" to make purchase more attractive to potential buyers.

If the City Council votes this fall, as expected, to establish the land bank, Philadelphia will join a number of other cities that have adopted plans like it to encourage buyers who are committed to making improvements, instead of speculators, to acquire tax-delinquent properties.  To keep property from speculators who might sit on it for years without improving it, the land bank would insist that buyers were current on taxes, had no history of code violations and had the resources to make promised changes.

Advocates for the land banks envision a variety of uses for the abandoned properties, including market-rate and affordable housing, commercial development, and open space.  Other uses could include community gardens or urban farms.  For the last 17 years, a project known as Greensgrow has been growing vegetables and making compost on the site of a former galvanizing factory in a low-income area of North Philadelphia.

If Philadelphia moves forward with this, it will serve as a good model for many American cites affected by urban blight and loss of industry.

Source: New York Times


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