March 22, 2012 15:17 Age: 2 yrs

Kansas City Land Bank Could Aid Economic Recovery, Alexander Says

Kansas City leaders hope their proposal to create a land bank for foreclosed or abandoned properties will be green-lighted soon by the Missouri Legislature.

Emory Law Professor Frank Alexander, author of the recent book Land Banks and Land Banking, helped draft the city’s proposed legislation. Alexander is Sam Nunn Chair for Ethics and Professionalism and founding director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion.

Alexander was quoted in a March 19 story by the Kansas City Star that used the example of the Flint, Mich., land bank, which was founded in 2002. The city was battling major population loss and abandoned properties. A Michigan State study found that in four years, the land bank’s efforts increased property values in Flint’s county by more than $100 million, the story said.

“The idea of the land bank is to establish a local entity with the authority to acquire vacant properties and set them aside for rehab or resale so that they can be put back on the tax rolls,” the story reads. In worst cases, unsalvageable homes are demolished and the land is sold to nearby landowners or developers or turned into community property such as parks.

Land banks can help property values recover and reduce city expenses required for upkeep of vacant property, Alexander said.

“What many communities are experiencing today is an increased number of properties that are locked in a dead status,” Alexander said. “They are not accessible to the marketplace because they are in such bad shape there is no market demand, and they are imposing significant costs to the neighborhood and city.”

But, they are not a silver bullet, he added.

“A land bank won’t solve declining socioeconomic conditions,” he said. “A land bank won’t rebuild anything by itself. But a land bank as a tool to get control of properties that are causing the harm can be very useful.”

The Kansas City bill has passed in the state House, and cleared a Senate committee earlier this week.

Related links:

Read the Kansas City Star story

Information on Alexander’s book, Land Banks and Land Banking


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