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City Council looks forward to possibility of land bank

12/5/2012 | Real Estate Blog

After eight years of discussion, the possibility of creating a central land bank to handle the large number of vacant and abandoned properties in Philadelphia is moving closer to becoming a reality. Back in October, Governor Corbett signed a bill that gives cities permission to establish land banks, and since then the Nutter administration has been moving to create a land bank within the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp.

In addition, the board recently hired an expert in handling abandoned property to be executive vice president. Now, the board is exploring how a land bank could work within the parameters of the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation. Still, challenges remain.

One of the challenges that remains is to set up a land bank is to spell out the land bank’s goals and priorities and describe how it would operate and be governed. A bill tackling this task has been introduced in Council, and will likely be considered in the new year.

There are, according to records, roughly 40,000 parcels vacant in Philadelphia, most of them concentrated in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. These vacant and abandoned properties have been blamed for decreasing property values, increasing blight and encouraging crime.

Addressing the problem has been difficult, in part because of the problem of diffuse ownership. Roughly one quarter of the parcels are held by four different agencies, each with its own rules and policies for disposing of parcels. The remaining properties are privately owned, and about 17,000 of them are tax delinquent.

Source:, “Plan for a Philadelphia city land bank is taking steps forward,” Troy Graham, December 3, 2012