Pittsburg, KS Taking Initial Step in Land Bank Creation
On April 27, The Joplin Globe published an article titled Discussion for Pittsburg land bank to begin.
Discussion for Pittsburg land bank to begin
PITTSBURG, Kan. — The city of Pittsburg will take the first step this afternoon in what could become a way to fight blight and abandonment in neighborhoods, city leaders say.
Called a land bank, the tool was born in recent decades in metro cities such as St. Louis and Atlanta as a way to find a new use for vacant, abandoned and problem properties in the quest toward community development, according to Becky Gray, director of Housing and Community Development.
“We see several instances each year of lots that builders or developers don’t want to buy because the cost of demolition and prepping them again for new construction is too high, or the cost of renovations is too high to make it worth their time, and so those properties sit there longer, dilapidate further and help no one,” Gray said.
In many instances, she said, such a property is owned by an absentee owner who might have inherited a home when a long-distance relative died, and the property falls into disrepair, taxes aren’t paid or the home goes into foreclosure.
“We want to get them under local control, clean them up, and make them attractive to builders and developers,” Gray said.
Frank Alexander, a law professor who founded the Center for Community Progress and wrote a 2005 text on land banks, “Land Bank Authorities: A Guide for the Creation and Operation of Local Land Banks,” said in it that such properties “diminish the sense of community among neighbors, erase the value of lifelong investment in a home, and make it nearly impossible for cities and towns to attract and keep the creative, innovative, entrepreneurial citizens who will build the next economy.”
They also are targets for arson and crime, Alexander noted.
City Manager Daron Hall said a land bank is worth considering, because in addition to creating housing opportunities, it also gets properties back on the tax rolls.
Gray said a land bank was one of the recommendations that came out of the city’s housing study completed late in 2014.
“It gives us a tool to really plan strategically with a long-term vision of what the city can look like, to provide parcels for green space, designate them for a specific use, assemble them so tiny little lots that won’t hold houses desirable these days can be sold,” she said.
The Pittsburg City Commission’s study session is slated for 5:15 p.m. at the Beard-Shanks Law Enforcement Center before the 5:30 p.m. regular meeting.
The commission would need to approve an ordinance to create a land bank, and appoint a board of trustees to govern it, according to Hall. The board would establish priorities for which properties would be acquired, and a process and timeline for doing so.
“We really think this will make great strides toward neighborhood revitalization,” Gray said.
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