Plan for a Philadelphia city land bank is taking steps forward

The dream of creating a central land bank to deal with Philadelphia’s epidemic of vacant and abandoned properties has taken several key steps toward fruition in recent weeks.  After eight years of discussion, legislation sponsored by State Rep. John Taylor (R., Phila.) giving cities permission to establish land banks finally passed the General Assembly. Gov. Corbett signed the bill in October.  Since then, the Nutter administration has been moving to house a land bank within the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp. (PHDC). The board there recently hired Michael Koonce, an expert in handling abandoned property, to be executive vice president.  Koonce and John Carpenter, deputy executive director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA), have been tasked with exploring how a land bank could work within the confines of PHDC.
Hurdles remain, including the passage of a bill in Council that would spell out the land bank’s goals and priorities and describe how it would operate and be governed.  Council is likely to start considering the bill in the new year.  For now, land bank advocates are cheering the momentum while keeping an eye on pivotal details.

Philadelphia Inquirer


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