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Land Banking: Transforming abandoned and problem properties into opportunities for productive re-use

(Learn even more from our new Land Bank Information Headquarters, featuring an FAQ and National Land Bank Map.)


The issue:
Vacant, abandoned and neglected properties threaten the safety and stability of neighborhoods, drive down property values and – increasingly, with the recent epidemic of foreclosures – threaten the balance sheets of city and county governments. Too often, communities and governments feel helpless in the face of the magnitude of the problem, with few apparent tools to address the loss of revenue and the attendant problems that neglect and abandonment yield. Land banking as a strategic response – through the creation of land banks or other public authorities – have proven to be a powerful solution, allowing public control of abandoned property; assemblage of parcels for residential, recreational, commercial and industrial redevelopment; and empowerment of communities to reverse the social and economic consequences of neglected and abandoned property.

The tools:
Community Progress works with states, local governments and community leaders to determine the most effective strategies and entities to give communities and governments control of vacant, abandoned and problem properties. We work with communities to find the most practical solutions to their challenges; whether the entity involved is a single-purpose “land bank” or simply a land banking program within an existing entity, we work with local groups to sharpen the tools they use to acquire and repurpose land. At times, this means working with governments and community groups to write and pass legislation creating single-purpose land banks. In other situations, our approach encompasses working with projects that range from nonprofit groups or redevelopment authorities to streamline tax sale processes to more effectively control outcomes.  In all cases, our involvement entails examining the entire process – from tax sales to traditional planning – to arrive at viable solutions that bring land into productive reuse.

The resources:
Community Progress provides both information and human resources to aid communities and governments in their quest to create effective land banking systems.

  • Information: Through our website, we offer a vast storehouse of information from across the United States on land banking and the enabling legislation that creates these entities. Our staff experts have the background and experience to analyze prevailing conditions and identify opportunities as well as flashpoints of concern. We know what’s worked across a wide array of conditions, we know how to help governments amalgamate and analyze complex data sets maintained across a wide array of agencies, and we have the expertise to help elected officials shape practical legislative strategies to create civically responsible and publicly accountable legal structures that facilitate moving abandoned and blighted properties to productive re-use.


  • Education and Advocacy: We know how to educate stakeholders and vital constituencies on the utility of public land banks as practical, responsible tools to fight blight and encourage responsible re-use – and we have an extensive track record in building civic support and engagement to secure public and legislative approval of the land bank or other appropriate process. Our annual Land Bank Conference had become a critical destination for both seasoned practitioners and those new to this strategy, as a place to learn, share experiences and network.


  • Consultation: Tax codes, zoning ordinances, case law, building and construction permit procedures, land use statutes from the state to the hyper-local level, legal mandates dictating the terms of authority for legislative offices that range from recorders of deeds to county sheriffs – all of these legal components and logistical concerns require careful analysis and planning in creating land bank legislation and the policies that guide their day-to-day operations. Our in-house experts and team of consultants have the practical know-how and logistical expertise to help local officials and the taxpayers, residents and businesses they represent unpack this complex landscape and author legislation and policy that create effective, accountable, responsibly-managed land banks that foster real economic and social value for communities.


Click here to download the pdf.