Hauppauge, N.Y. - Today, the New York Land Bank Association (NYLBA) released New York State Land Banks: Combating Blight and Vacancy in New York Communities, a report on the early accomplishments of the state’s first nine land banks over the last two years.
New York State Land Banks: Combating Blight and Vacancy in New York Communities is the first publication to be released by NYLBA, a statewide network of the nine land banks in New York State, from Erie to Suffolk County. The report is a resource for local officials, state leaders, public and private funders, and other parties interested in the value and role of land banks in communities combating property vacancy, abandonment and blight.
The Suffolk County Landbank Corp. (SCLBC), with funding support from the EPA and NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office addresses community revitalization in two different ways, by acquiring and rehabilitating vacant and blighted residential properties, while also taking an innovative approach to the redevelopment of tax delinquent brownfield properties, allowing for site assessment, tax lien transfer, and sale, while limiting the risk of environmental liability. While still in its early stages, the SCLBC is currently in the process of performing environmental assessments on 19 properties. Additionally, a coordinated effort with the Suffolk County Treasurer’s office to notify owners of delinquent properties yielded $2.37 million in back tax payments in its first year. Once on the market, the tax liens can be sold to qualified private developers who will then remediate the previously unmarketable blighted properties. The redevelopment of these blighted properties, which are scattered throughout the county, will increase surrounding property values, stabilize the tax base, and improve quality of life for neighborhood residents.
Additionally, through its membership in NYLBA, leadership of The Suffolk County Landbank Corp expects to benefit from sharing best practices and experiences with other land banks around the state.
“All across Suffolk County, communities have been struggling to cope with abandoned, tax-delinquent and contaminated properties that blight neighborhoods and business districts,” said County Executive Bellone. “Now, the Suffolk County Land Bank will give us a mechanism to put many of these brownfield properties in the hands of the private sector to be remediated and put to good use once again. The land bank will make a tangible difference for these communities, enhancing the environment, bolstering the local economy and improving quality of life.”
“Establishing a land bank is a huge step forward for our communities and our environment,” said Legislative Presiding Officer Gregory, who authored the original legislation directing the County to pursue the establishment of a Land Bank as a way to revive blighted communities. “I believe it will become the most effective tool the County has ever had to make tainted properties habitable and impoverished communities economically viable.”
“The Suffolk County Landbank Corp. is a win for the taxpayers, allowing us to get tax-delinquent properties back on the tax rolls while recovering a portion of back taxes; a win for the environment as it will foster the cleanup of environmentally contaminated properties; and a win for communities as we turn blighted properties into productive parcels,” said Legislator Cilmi. “This has long been a priority of mine and I am thrilled that an issue that has been so vexing for so long is finally being addressed.”
The report, issued statewide by NYLBA members, was developed with support from the Center for Community Progress, CenterState CEO, the Ford Foundation, and SUNY Buffalo State. It is available online at www.centerstateceo.com/NYLBA.
"Land banks provide a powerful opportunity for communities across New York to take control of abandoned properties, opening up a broader range of options for short-term intervention and pursuit of long-term neighborhood revitalization,” said Katelyn Wright, chair, New York Land Bank Association. "We are pleased to offer this report as a way to highlight the great work that’s been accomplished in just the last two years in tackling vacant and abandoned properties that threaten the vitality of neighborhoods across the state."
“Land banks provide a unique tool that puts the ability to address blight and vacant properties into the hands of municipalities and neighbors, resulting in community-driven revitalization of our urban cores,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO, in Syracuse. “As this report details, we are already seeing the impact of land banks, with the creation of more vibrant, stable neighborhoods, and more prosperous communities.”
“New York’s land bank leaders have worked hard to learn from other land banks around the country about the most effective ways to address vacant and blighted properties,” said Tamar Shapiro, president and CEO of the Center for Community Progress. “As the report shows, New York land banks are already strengthening their communities. The newly created NYLBA is a vehicle for land banks to learn from, and support, each other. It will ensure that the positive impacts of land banking continue to increase in neighborhoods statewide.”
In October, NYLBA is hosting a statewide summit for New York land bank leaders in Syracuse to support training and development, facilitate the exchange of solutions and ideas, and map out statewide goals for 2015.
Land banking began in New York following the 2011 passage of the New York Land Bank Act, which authorized the creation of ten land banks as a tool to address the impacts of property vacancy, abandonment and foreclosure across the state. In New York, land banks are independent nonprofit corporations focused on the return of vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties to productive use. To date, land banks have formed in nine communities throughout the state and, in June 2014, a new state law passed, authorizing the creation of up to 20 total land banks.
“As the Senate sponsor of the original land bank legislation, I am especially pleased to see the significant progress detailed in the report,” State Senator David J. Valesky said. “I have seen firsthand how the efforts of the nine land banks across the state are changing neighborhoods for the better, and I look forward to their continued positive achievements in the future.”
“As the co-author of the NYS land bank law, I am gratified to see the incredible progress that has been made as a result of the land banks that have been established throughout NYS," said Sam Hoyt, regional president, NYS ESD, and former NYS Assemblyman. "In addition, I thank Governor Cuomo for recognizing this important tool for combating blight and problem properties across the state and for his continued support of the revitalization of our cities.”
According to the U.S. Census, 2012 American Community Survey five-year estimate, there are 270,510 vacant housing units in New York State. The nine existing land banks in New York State are working to convert these property liabilities into assets that advance community-based goals. New York’s land banks include:
· Albany County Land Bank Corporation
· Broome County Land Bank Corporation
· Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corporation
· Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation
· Greater Syracuse Land Bank
· Land Reutilization Corporation of the Capital Region
· Newburgh Community Land Bank
· Rochester Land Bank Corporation
· Suffolk County Landbank Corporation
New York follows in the footsteps of numerous other states that use land banking as a tool to reclaim vacant properties, including Michigan, Georgia, and Ohio. According to research by the Center for Community Progress, there are an estimated total of 120 land banks or land banking programs in the United States.
About the Suffolk County Landbank Corp.
The Suffolk County Landbank Corporation (SCLBC) is a Land Bank formed in 2013 under New York State’s Not-For-Profit Corporation law. The overall purpose of the SCLBC is to facilitate the redevelopment of distressed and underutilized properties within Suffolk County.
The creation of the SCLBC was the result of extensive collaboration with the Executive and Legislative branches of Suffolk County’s government, as well as the Suffolk Town Supervisors Association, all of which are represented in the board of directors, as well as New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, and community stakeholders. The cooperative approach in its organization has resulted in expressions of support from every town in the county.
The goals of the Suffolk County Landbank Corporation are to: facilitate community revitalization, protect the quality of Suffolk's sole source drinking water through the clean-up of brownfields, and create short term remediation jobs, mid-term construction jobs, and long-term employment, by returning neglected properties to productive reuse. More information is available at www.suffolkcountylandbank.org.
About the New York Land Bank Association
The New York Land Bank Association (NYLBA) is comprised of land banks across New York and serves as a resource for problem solving, idea sharing, and advocating for resources and other means to improve land banking at the local level and in the state as a whole. More information is available at www.centerstateceo.com/NYLBA.
About CenterState CEO
CenterState CEO is a regional business leadership organization, chamber of commerce, and economic development strategist, based in Syracuse, New York. CEO represents 2,000 members of all sizes and serves as the primary business resource and catalyst for development in a twelve-county area. The organization advocates for smart business, facilitate regional growth and promote community prosperity through results-driven partnerships, planning and problem solving. More information is available at www.centerstateceo.com.
About Center for Community Progress
Founded in 2010, the Center for Community Progress is the only national 501(c)3 nonprofit organization solely dedicated to building a future in which entrenched, systemic blight no longer exists in American communities. As a national leader on solutions for blight and vacancy, Community Progress serves as the leading resource for local, state and federal policies and best practices that address the full cycle of property revitalization, from blight prevention, through the acquisition and maintenance of problem properties, to their productive reuse. More information is available at www.communityprogress.net.