What is a Land Bank?

A land bank is typically a not-for-profit or governmental entity intended to facilitate the return of vacant and abandoned properties to productive use. Land banks ensure that properties’ return to productive use are planned for in a coordinated manner. Sometimes this requires only short-term involvement of the land bank, which may acquire a problem property so it can be quickly sold to a responsible buyer for redevelopment. Sometimes this entails longer-term stabilization of a property while waiting for an appropriate development proposal, for renovation funding to become available, or for opportunities to assemble larger parcels of land available for redevelopment.

Land banks’ preventive maintenance reduces cities’ costs of code enforcement, lawn-mowing and board-ups, and court-ordered demolitions and contributes more to the stabilization of property values than those reactive interventions. Land banks are also involved in preserving land for community use, such as parks and gardens or other natural conservation purposes. Many of the benefits of land banks are derived from assembling vacant and underutilized properties under single-ownership and coordinating their maintenance and development outcomes with long-range planning.