Before / After Photos
Upon acquiring a property, the Land Bank’s maintenance contractor evaluates the property, addresses any safety hazards, and documents its condition. Vacant properties are boarded if necessary and clean-up is ordered. Occupants are offered a lease or relocation assistance depending on the condition of the property.
Properties for Sale
Available Properties are listed on the Land Bank’s website. Homes are listed with real estate agents; you can visit these properties with your own real estate agent, who can gain access using the MLS lock box. Commercial properties are listed with brokers and advertised via Loopnet. Most vacant lots are only listed on the Land Bank’s website. Buyers must inspect the property and submit a detailed renovation budget with their offer (unless the property is move-in ready). The Land Bank may place additional requirements on certain properties or restrict what buyers may do with them, such as those homes included in the Home-Ownership Choice program. Visit the Properties page for more information.
Land Bank Programs
Many of our communities in Onondaga County have properties that are abandoned or underutilized in part due to known or suspected environmental contamination associated with past uses. These properties are commonly referred to as “brownfields.”
Brownfield – noun. 1. real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. 2. abandoned or underutilized property that is not being redeveloped because of fears that it may be contaminated with hazardous substances.
The Land Bank was formed by the City and County to return abandoned properties, including brownfields, to productive use. To do so, we work to remove impediments preventing private buyers from purchasing and redeveloping property. With brownfields, the unknowns are often an impediment. EPA Assessment Grant funds have enabled us to test brownfields and eliminate those “unknowns” about potential contamination.
USEPA Brownfield Assessment Grant Project
In 2019, the Land Bank was awarded two United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Community-Wide Assessment Grants totaling $600,000 to be used to perform complete environmental assessment and reuse planning activities on eligible brownfields sites throughout Syracuse and Onondaga County. The Land Bank is the lead member of a “coalition” that includes the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) and the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA). Funding will be implemented over a 3-year project period extending from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2022.
The goals of the project include developing an inventory of brownfield properties, from which properties will be prioritized and assessed in a streamlined and cost-effective manner, and further action needs will be determined in order to facilitate the properties’ redevelopment. These goals will be accomplished by site-specific and non-site-specific assessment activities. Non-site-specific tasks include developing and periodically updating the inventory of potential brownfield properties, oversight of contractor services to provide technical and programmatic assistance, conducting public outreach workshops and preparing outreach materials relevant to the project. Site-specific tasks include performing Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) activities, performing Regulated Building Materials (RBM) surveys, preparing Sampling and Analysis Plans (SAPs), conducting site cleanup/reuse planning, and enrolling appropriate sites in the State Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), to determine whether further assessment, cleanup, or no action is required before redevelopment can occur. For more information on the program and eligible properties, please contact Katelyn Wright (email@example.com or 315-422-2301.
Status of FY2019 EPA Brownfield Assessment Coalition Grant
The GSLB has completed Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) on 17 brownfields, with two additional Phase I ESAs nearing completion. Additionally, Phase II ESAs have been completed on five brownfields, with work underway on up to eight additional sites. As a result of the Phase I/II ESAs that have been completed to date, purchase offers have been received on six brownfields and several other brownfields are presently on the market for disposition and reuse. The project is anticipated to be completed on budget and over six months ahead of the allotted three-year grant implementation schedule.
Applying for FY2022 EPA Brownfield Community-Wide Assessment Grant Funding
With over 70% of the FY2019 EPA Brownfield Assessment Coalition Grant expended, the GSLB intends to apply for $500,000 of EPA Brownfield Community-Wide Assessment Grant funding as part of the FY2022 EPA Brownfield Grant competition. On 09/14/21, GLSB issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit interest from qualified consultants to assist with grant application and implementation services. Proposals are due on 10/13/21. It is anticipated that FY2022 grant applications will be due for submittal during late November/early December of 2021, with notices of award anticipated during May of 2022.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a brownfield?
Brownfields are vacant and underutilized properties previously used for industrial, commercial, or other uses with the potential to have resulted in contamination that could complicate plans for redevelopment or reuse.
What will grant funds be used for?
USEPA brownfields assessment grant funding can be used to complete environmental assessments and cleanup/reuse planning for individual brownfield sites, as well as to complete inventories of brownfields and to conduct various forms of outreach relevant to individual sites or the grant project as a whole.
What sites are eligible for grant funds?
Sites eligible for grant funded activities include private- or public-owned properties with known or suspected contamination and properties where sale, reuse, or redevelopment is planned. Examples of potential brownfields sites that could be eligible for grant funding include:
- Former manufacturing and industrial sites (e.g. shuttered mills and factories, old tank farms, etc.)
- Vacant or underutilized warehouses and commercial facilities (e.g. aging strip malls)
- Former gas stations and other auto-related businesses
- Former dry cleaners
- Old rail yards and truck depots
- Salvage yards and historic fill or dump sites
- Buildings with asbestos, lead paint, or other hazardous building substances
Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis – through the completion of eligibility determination request forms that are prepared by the Greater Syracuse Land Bank, and submitted for review and approval to USEPA. In general, grant funds cannot be used on sites and for activities for which there is a financially viable “responsible party” that caused the contamination. For petroleum brownfields (one example of which are former gas station sites), a general requirement in that the current or immediate past owner cannot have dispensed, stored, and/or potentially caused the release of gasoline, diesel fuel, heating fuel or other petroleum products to soil or groundwater. There are several categories of sites that are specifically excluded from eligibility. These include sites on the USEPA National Priority “Superfund” List and sites targeted for any federal or state enforcement actions. A major focus for the grant has been properties that have been, or which will be, acquired by the Land Bank or other project partners through the tax-foreclosure process, and the vast majority of these sites should be eligible for funding.
What are the program requirements and timeline?
The program and funding is committed through September 2022. At this time all FY2019 funds are allocated.
How do I nominate sites for use of grant funding?
FY2019 Assessment Funds are all already allocated. If we are successful in our next application and awarded FY 2022 funds, property owners and community members will be able to nominate sites in need of Environmental Assessment. A Site Nomination Form will be made available when funds are available. Nominated sites will be reviewed for feasibility by the Land Bank and their environmental consultant and if they are determined to be feasible, an eligibility determination request will be submitted to EPA on the owner’s behalf requesting approval for use of grant funding. If approved, the property owner will work with the Land Bank and the project’s environmental consultant to coordinate the environmental site assessment and/or related activities. The owner will receive a report with findings and recommendations.
For additional information or to nominate a site for grant funding consideration, please contact:
Katelyn Wright, Executive Director
Greater Syracuse Land Bank Phone: 315-422-2301
Disclaimer: Although this project has been funded by the EPA, the contents of this material does not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the EPA.
Side Lot Sales
In many instances the sale of a vacant lot to the owner of the property next door is consistent with the Land Bank’s disposition policies (although in some instances the land will be held for site assembly or new construction). When Side Lot sale is the best option, the Land Bank will offer the property for sale for a nominal fee.
Download a Side Lot Purchase Application. The Land Bank typically requires that the applicant combine the lot with their existing property through a re-subdivision (requires approval by the Planning Commission and a stamped property survey) prior to conveying title. Financial assistance for re-subdivisions and other improvements may be available through the City of Syracuse.Side Lot Application
Community Garden Leases
The Land Bank leases vacant lots to community groups and nonprofits for $1/year for community gardens. The tenants are responsible for mowing, littler pickup, and property maintenance. Contact our office for more information.
Home-Ownership Choice Program
In order to promote home-ownership, the Land Bank will only accept offers on Home-Ownership Choice properties from buyers who plan to occupy the home as their primary residence or who will sell to an owner-occupant.* The Land Bank’s lien against the property isn’t discharged until the property is renovated and owner-occupied. The listing notes for the property indicate whether it’s in this program.
The Land Bank requires all first time homebuyers to take a HUD-approved homebuyer education course. Most homes the Land Bank sells require some renovation. Many banks offer loans to credit-worthy applicants that cover purchase and renovation costs, including 203K loans and similar loan products. Home HeadQuarters offers these, as well, and in many instances some renovation costs may take the form of a grant for income-qualified buyers. Learn more about Home HeadQuarters’ financing available for Home-Ownership Choice houses.
* We will make an exception for an owner-occupant who lives on that block who may want to buy, renovate, and keep a property as a rental so they can control property on their block.
Tenant to Home-Owner Program
Some properties are occupied at the time the Land Bank acquires them. Initially the Land Bank will offer a month-to-month lease to these occupants if the property is in acceptable condition. In most instances when the Land Bank plans to market these properties for sale, the occupant at the time of foreclosure will be offered the first opportunity to purchase the property. (Note: The Land Bank’s disposition policy prohibits the sale of properties back to the owner who was foreclosed upon for tax-delinquency or the immediate family member of the prior owner.) The Land Bank requires all first time homebuyers to take home owner education courses and to receive other financial counseling.
Stabilization and Renovation
When the Land Bank acquires properties, it will make preventive repairs in order to stabilize the structure and prevent deterioration. In some instances the Land Bank will renovate properties prior to sale in order to ensure that it has a mix of move-in ready homes available for purchase in addition to properties needing renovation. This enables the Land Bank to promote home-ownership to stabilize neighborhoods and to make sales at higher prices in order to help increase surrounding property values.
The Land Bank undertakes preventive maintenance to prevent properties from deteriorating and becoming demolition candidates, but some properties are beyond renovation at the time of acquisition. In all instances the Land Bank pursues architectural salvage prior to demolition. The Land Bank is currently engaged in a pilot program to test “deconstruction” as an alternative to demolition so that building materials are recycled rather than landfilled.
Land Assembly and Land Banking
In many instances, the Land Bank may attempt to assemble larger parcels of land before marketing them for sale, in order to accomplish more preferable redevelopment outcomes – for example, combining two vacant lots for new construction rather than selling just one to an adjacent property owner. The Land Bank may also assemble land for development partners in neighborhood revitalization or affordable housing, for conservation purposes, or for community-based uses such as gardens or parks. In some instances the Land Bank may engage in land banking and hold land for an extended period of time in order to develop a coordinated plan for the area’s revitalization, raise funds for special projects, and/or acquire additional nearby properties.