Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Land Banking and Demolition in Cleveland

NPR does a little story on how land banks in Cuyahoga county have gotten big banks to pay for the demolition of crumbling houses across the Cleveland area:

Lenders stuck with crumbling houses found themselves on the hook in the Cleveland Housing Court for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of code violations.

The Cuyahoga County Land Bank, a quasi-government corporation, offered lenders a deal: We'll take your worst houses, if you pay to knock them down. This year, Fannie Mae and some of the country's biggest lenders — including Bank of America, Citibank and Wells Fargo — will help pay for half of the land bank's 700 scheduled demolitions.

Lenders pay $3,500 to $7,500 per house. Wells Fargo's Russ Cross says it's a sensible and responsible business plan.

The real difficulty, as the story points out, is that nobody knows what to do with the vacant lots after the buildings have been destroyed.  There's only so much demand for yet another urban garden.

Steve Clowney

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The Community Land Bank can hold these sites, and eventually lease them out to people who would build homes on them. The homeowners would own their homes and rent the land, providing a revenue source for the land bank, or even for the larger community. Land rents could be at market rates or at something lower, if that seemed desirable.

Nothing says that a community land trust needs to hold contiguous sites.

Natural public revenue.

It might be years before these properties get used, so planting some trees or low-maintenance plantings might be a good thing. Where there are contiguous lots, perhaps offering them to the city as a park might make sense, or permitting neighbors to use them on some basis might generate interest. They don't want an eyesore, and so have some incentive to come up with plans.

Posted by: LVTfan | Sep 1, 2011 5:34:12 AM

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