Philadelphia, Jan. 13, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter on Monday signed into law landmark legislation creating the City’s first Land Bank. The new law — sponsored by Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, Council President Darrell L. Clarke, Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., Councilman Bill Green and Councilman Bobby Henon — put Philadelphia in position to dramatically reform the City’s system of putting vacant properties back into productive use.
“Philadelphia is making history. Today, we get a step closer to creating a new tool to repurpose vacant, tax-delinquent properties and grow the city’s tax base,” said Councilwoman Sánchez, the bill’s prime sponsor.
“I would like to thank my partners in City Council, the Nutter Administration, the Philly Land Bank Alliance and members of the community for being part of this collaborative process. It was frustrating at times for some, but I feel strongly that building the foundation for an efficient, well-resourced land bank – as opposed to just a signed bill – should always have been the goal,” said Council President Clarke.
Philadelphia’s land bank would have the authority to acquire vacant, tax-delinquent properties through sheriff’s sale and begin the process of consolidating title of and making available for sale the 9,082 vacant properties currently owned by the City of Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s land bank would be the largest municipal land bank in the nation.
Council President Clarke continued: “The opportunity to consolidate land under single ownership will certainly provide a better customer service experience for applicants. We must now continue the conversation about developing policies to incentivize the development of vacant land for the purposes of generating jobs, growing businesses, producing more revenue for our schools, and creating safe and enjoyable spaces for the public.”
“We’re very pleased the bill sponsors on City Council and Alliance representatives have reached agreement that will allow the land bank ordinance to be passed by the end of the year,” said Rick Sauer, executive director of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations.
“This legislation as amended strikes the appropriate balance between transparency, fairness, efficiency and accountability in the process of getting publicly owned vacant land under one title and available to the private market,” said Andrew Frishkoff, executive director of Philadelphia LISC.
The Philly Land Bank Alliance includes the following non-profit and for-profit stakeholders: the Building Industry Association; City Wide NAC Alliance; Community Design Collaborative; Design Advocacy Group; Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors; Philadelphia LISC; Next Great City/PennFuture; Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations; Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia; Regional Housing Legal Services; and Sustainable Business Network.
Click here to view the legislation.