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CPBJ Extra Blog

Time for some land banks

By - Last modified: April 3, 2013 at 8:59 AM
Jason Scott
Jason Scott

Are there any elected officials out there who think blight is a good thing for the community?

Is there anyone who doesn't want to see it cleaned up?

Of course we probably all want the tax-deliquent and abandoned properties resold and rehabilitated to help neighboring values. But that takes funding and the right tools.

Last October, Gov. Tom Corbett signed a law that would allow local governments with at least 10,000 residents — joint efforts to hit the minimum population threshold also are encouraged — to create land bank authorities.

Thanks to events sponsored by the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, various community development professionals from across the commonwealth have been brushing up on the law and what it might mean for long-term redevelopment efforts.

I spoke with a few of those individuals for a story published in the Inside Business section of this week's Business Journal.

Land banks help clean up title on properties often acquired through tax sales or a county's repository of unsold properties.

And they create public input opportunities when it comes to setting priorities for reuse of acquired properties. That could mean transforming blocks of parcels into public park spaces.

With roughly 300,000 vacant and abandoned properties spread across Pennsylvania — about 54,000 of those between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh — the land bank legislation could prove highly valuable for many communities in the coming years.

As communities face continued budgetary pressures from pensions, health care, public safety and other cost drivers, land banks create many different possibilities to potentially bolster the local tax base.

Here are a few other stories about the legislation and its expected impact.

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at You can also follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal.

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