Morning Headlines: Could the Land Bank Plan Be Better?

Photo credit: Julia Rowe via Flickr

Photo credit: Julia Rowe via Flickr

We’ve been waiting for it since the beginning of the year, but now that the city’s new Land Bank is expected to launch in 2015, some worry the blueprints for the plan need improvement.

The Daily News’ Valerie Russ reports that advocates of affordable housing are less than impressed with the Philadelphia Land Bank’s draft strategic plan and see it as being “too general.” Said Nora Lichtash of the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities:

“We want to make sure that when they transfer land to get rid of blight, that they’re doing it in a way to ensure that not only market-rate development takes place, but there’s also affordable development that comes back out of the land bank.”

Read more »

Morning Headlines: Land Bank to Start at the End of this Year

Buildings in Mantua, the West Philadelphia neighborhood with close to 15% in vacant properties.
Photo credit: Ian Freimuth via Flickr

At long last the much anticipated and nationally acknowledged Land Bank has become official. Yesterday, Mayor Nutter signed the bill that permits the formation of a division in charge of taking over Philadelphia’s tax-delinquent and vacant properties, and selling them to buyers.

Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez estimates that the bank, which will be a branch of the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp., will require somewhere between $3 million and $5 million to get going. With more than 11,000 properties throughout the city, is that really surprising?

Read more »

Morning Headlines: New York Times Thinks Philadelphia Could Set An Example

• Could this be the year Philadelphia sticks to a new year resolution regarding vacant properties? The New York Times highlights the city’s steps to make things right.

• Attention mortgage borrowers! Erik J. Martin from CTW Features reminds us that Jan. 1 marked the expiration Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act.

• The 146-room Hilton Garden Inn Philadelphia/Ft. Washington now belongs to the Laurus Corporation after buying it for $16.4 million. That’s about $112k per unit, as CoStar Group’s Vickie Katlic points out.

Read more »

What Philly Should Have Learned From Baltimore About Land Banks

maria-quinones-sanchez-head-Shot-400x400After two years of crafting a land bank bill that would streamline the messy, maddening process of buying land from the city, Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez’s legislative magnum opus finally passed a first-reading last week, but far less triumphantly than many would have liked. In the 11th hour, Sanchez capitulated to an amendment by Council President Darrell Clarke that would effectively retain the stifling councilmanic control over the sale of land. (The bill  has since been passed.)

Read more »

State House Reps Back Land Bank Advocates

As City Council members debated yesterday the land bank legislation voted out of committee last month, two of the state representatives who drafted the legislation that made the land bank possible have lent their voice to those of the advocates who say it needs further streamlining.

In a letter released Wednesday, state Reps. Chris Ross (R-158th District; Chester County) and John Taylor (R-177th District; River Wards) criticized the current land bank bill for not doing away with the Vacant Property Review Committee (VPRC).

Read more »

Is the Current Land Bank Bill Strong Enough?


The coalition of developers, Realtors and community development corporations pushing to create a city land bank praised the bill Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez is sponsoring for streamlining the city’s cumbersome process for getting vacant land into the hands of those who will redevelop it. But at a news conference today, they argued that the bill could speed things up even more and urged supporters to work for changes that would improve it.

The main purpose of the news conference called by the Philadelphia Land Bank Alliance (PLBA) was to spell out in detail just how cumbersome the process is and how both the current and improved bills would return vacant land to productive use faster.

Read more »