Vacant and abandoned properties are a challenging problem for any community. By viewing these properties as potential assets, rather than barriers to revitalization, smart growth advocates are finding new ways to reinvest in once-neglected neighborhoods.
One notable strategy being used nationwide to contest property abandonment is land banking. Land banks are public authorities created to acquire, hold, manage and develop vacant properties. Land banks aim to convert vacant properties that have been neglected by the open market into productive use, thereby transforming neighborhood liabilities into assets. A land bank:
- Acquires title to vacant and abandoned properties;
- Eliminates barriers to redevelopment; and
- Transfers property to a new owner in a way that supports community needs and priorities
As such, land banks often provide marketable title to properties previously impossible to develop.