What is a land bank?
Land banks are governmental entities or nonprofit corporations that are focused on the conversion of vacant, abandoned, and tax delinquent properties into productive use. Vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties are often grouped together as “problem properties” because they destabilize neighborhoods, create fire and safety hazards, drive down property values, and drain local tax dollars. In some sense, these are properties the private market has altogether rejected.
Land banks, in essence, are a direct response to this growing trend of vacancy and abandonment, created to strategically acquire problem properties and convert these liabilities into assets. In short, land banks are intended to acquire title to these problem properties, eliminate the liabilities, and transfer the properties to new, responsible owners in a transparent manner that results in outcomes consistent with community-based plans.
Most land banks have special powers that enable them to undertake these activities more effectively and efficiently than other public or nonprofit entities. When thoughtfully executed, land banking can resolve some of the toughest barriers to returning land to productive use, helping to unlock the value of problem properties and converting them into assets for community revitalization.
How is a land bank different from a redevelopment authority?
In a few states, legislation has been passed that grants redevelopment authorities many of the same powers as land banks. In Louisiana, for example, some redevelopment authorities can also function as land banks. However, in most states, redevelopment authorities and land banks differ both in terms of their legal powers and their mission. Land banks typically implement disposition policies that allow greater flexibility than a redevelopment authority in terms of transferees and consideration. However, unlike many redevelopment authorities
- land banks do not have the power of eminent domain
- land banks do not have the power to tax.
As for mission, many land banks are focused on acquiring, stabilizing and returning to productive use those properties that are considered to have the most blighting influence in a community. These are properties that may not have an immediate redevelopment opportunity, but are destabilizing neighborhoods and undermining quality of life. In comparison, a redevelopment authority is typically focused on properties with near-term redevelopment potential and on large scale development projects that align with highly visible and long-term economic development goals.
What are some of the core powers of a land bank?
Depending on state and local law, land banks often have unique legal powers to support their activities and facilitate the return of problem properties to productive use. Though these statutes differ widely from state to state, they generally grant the following powers:
- Obtain property at low or no cost through the tax foreclosure
- Hold land tax-free
- Clear title and/or extinguish back taxes
- Lease properties for temporary uses
- Negotiate sales based not only on the highest bid but also on the outcome that most closely aligns with community needs, such as workforce housing, a grocery store, or green space
Using these special powers, land banks can streamline blight removal and create a nimble, accountable, and community-driven approach to returning problem properties to productive use.
How is a land bank funded?
Land banks are generally funded through a variety of sources, which may include revenue from the sale of properties, foundation grants, general fund appropriations from local and county governments, and federal and state grants. Land banks in certain states have received significant funding from the federal Hardest Hit Funds.
Code – Local Government Code
Chapter- 379 (c) Urban Land Bank Demonstration Program
Chapter – 379 (d) (e) Urban Lank Bank Program