The land bank’s purpose is twofold: to buy and resell abandoned property for rehab or redevelopment, and to clear land of blighted structures and revert it to redevelopment or community uses like parks and gardens. And since it’s inception in 2013, the land bank has acquired 335 properties in Chicago and suburban Cook County—mostly blighted, abandoned homes, but also vacant lots, commercial buildings, and industrial sites—in an effort to reverse the devastation of the foreclosure crisis and resulting population loss.
Of those 335 properties—which the land bank mostly acquires through donations from banks and individuals—190 have been sold to developers for rehab. Of those, nine have then been resold to new owners.
This may not seem like a lot, but the land bank began acquiring properties two years ago with just a $4.5 million grant and a landscape of more than 51,000 abandoned addresses throughout the county—one main result of the subprime mortgage crisis.
The land bank has the authority to acquire abandoned properties tied up in foreclosure proceedings or weighed down with back taxes and other fines, wipe their financial slates clean, then sit on them them until an interested buyer comes along.
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