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New York land banks are instrumental tools that facilitate the revitalization of distressed and vacant properties in the state. With their ability to acquire, manage, and repurpose vacant land and properties, land banks play a vital role in transforming blighted neighborhoods into thriving communities. Below, we’ll delve into the concept of New York land banks to explore their objectives, functions, and influence on local communities.
Definition & Purpose
A land bank refers to a public or nonprofit entity that acquires, manages, and disposes of vacant, abandoned or tax-delinquent properties. In New York, land banks serve as catalysts for community redevelopment by strategically acquiring these properties and implementing revitalization plans.
Creation & Authorization
The New York State Land Bank Act was passed in 2011, thereby enabling the establishment of land banks across the state. The legislation also empowered local governments to create land banks as public authorities to combat urban blight and promote community renewal.
New York land banks acquire properties through various means, including tax foreclosure auctions, donations and direct purchases. In particular, they focus on distressed, vacant, and tax-delinquent properties that burden local communities and hinder economic growth.
Once acquired, land banks assume responsibility for managing the properties under their purview. This includes activities such as property maintenance, securing buildings, clearing debris and addressing code violations to prevent further deterioration.
Land banks employ a strategic approach to property redevelopment by considering community needs and long-term objectives. Then, they collaborate with local stakeholders, community organizations, and developers to determine the best use for each property, aiming to maximize community impact and economic benefits.
Land Bank Partnerships
Collaboration is a key aspect of land bank operations. Specifically, land banks forge partnerships with municipalities, housing organizations, financial institutions, and nonprofit entities to leverage expertise, funding and resources. These partnerships strengthen the overall revitalization efforts and facilitate successful project implementation.
Land Bank Functions
Apart from property acquisition and management, land banks also undertake activities such as land assembly, demolition of blighted structures, site preparation, and sale or lease of properties for redevelopment. They may also engage in property banking, which involves strategically holding properties for future development.
The establishment of land banks brings numerous benefits to local communities. Namely, by transforming vacant properties into productive assets, land banks enhance property values, generate tax revenue, create job opportunities and increase overall neighborhood quality. They also improve the aesthetic appeal, safety and livability of communities.
Funding & Resources
To fulfill their objectives, land banks rely on various funding sources, including grants, private investments, tax credits, and revenue generated from property sales or leases. Additionally, they may also access resources such as technical assistance, capacity-building programs, and expertise in urban planning and community development.
New York land banks have witnessed notable success stories. Examples include the Greater Syracuse Land Bank — which transformed vacant properties into affordable housing units — and the Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corporation, which revitalized blighted neighborhoods through targeted redevelopment efforts. These achievements demonstrate the positive impact of land banks in restoring communities.
Clearly, New York land banks serve as powerful tools for community revitalization by effectively managing distressed properties and strategically redeveloping vacant land. Through property acquisition, management, and partnerships, land banks contribute to the economic growth, improved housing stock and overall wellbeing of communities across the state. And, by prioritizing community needs and leveraging resources, land banks play a vital role in creating sustainable and vibrant neighborhoods for generations to come.
John Pak serves as the Real Estate Chair at the Law Offices of Pardalis & Nohavicka. He is a transactional attorney specializing in acquisitions, dispositions and leasing. A graduate of Brooklyn Law School, he received his BA in Political Science from New York University. Prior to joining PN Lawyers, John owned his own private law practice for 15 years and a title company for 6 years.
Taso Pardalis is a founding partner of the Law Offices of Pardalis & Nohavicka, a leading full- service NYC law firm with offices in Manhattan, Queens and WeWork. Taso may be a well-known attorney with many cases making headlines in major media outlets, but at heart, he is a true entrepreneur that believes in supporting the small business community. His areas of concentration are: Intellectual Property, Trademarks, Corporate, Business Law and Real Estate Law.