Land Bank 101
What We Do
The Land Bank acquires vacant, blighted, abandoned, and tax delinquent properties in Portage County primarily through tax-foreclosure in an effort to return them back to productive use. In most cases, a property’s end-use is identified prior to its acquisition. When a residential improved property is acquired it is further assessed to determine its suitability for rehabilitation, or its need for possible demolition. Properties are rehabilitated through one of two programs, the Acquisition-Rehab-Resale Program where the land bank acts as developer and rehabs the property itself, or the Deed-in-Escrow Rehabilitation Program where the land bank partners with a qualified contractor, investor, or owner-occupant who rehabilitates the property. In either case, properties are renovated to a high-quality standard and then put back on the tax rolls where they become productive presences in neighborhoods and positive contributors to property values in the local real estate market area. Beyond existing residential housing, the Land Bank targets vacant land that offers potential new development opportunities and also considers acquisition of commercial properties in cases where there is an end-user who has plans for reutilizing the property.
How a Community Benefits from a Land Bank
Neglected properties often become costly responsibilities to the local community. Local governments, surrounding residents and property owners bear these costs of vacant and abandoned properties, which includes safety, crime, property maintenance and property value issues. When the Land Bank acquires, rehabilitates and resells a property the entire community benefits. Completed projects also put properties back on tax rolls, which contributes to organizations who rely on property tax as part of their operational income, and provides a positive value bump to other properties within the local real estate market area.
How We Operate
The Land Bank is governed by a five (5) member Board of Directors and has an Executive Director who oversees the day-to-day operations of the organization. Official meetings of the Board of Directors are held on a quarterly basis. The PCLRC is primarily supported by DTAC funds (penalty and interest revenue from delinquent real estate taxes). Other funding sources include grants, sale of acquired property and donations. The land bank does not receive money from the Portage County general revenue fund.
“The costs of dealing with vacant and abandoned properties fall mainly to local governments, which are often unable to break the cycle of foreclosure to abandonment to blight. They are thwarted by heavy costs, the lack of a timely legal mechanism to acquire properties, liability concerns, and no overarching strategy to address the problems at a regional level. Land Banks provide that mechanism.”