New York Land Banks Set New Standard for Success

Five-Year Report Illustrates Progress in the Fight Against Blight
Greater Syracuse Land Bank recognized for large-scale response to property Abandonment

Syracuse, N.Y. – Today, the New York Land Bank Association (NYLBA) released New York State Land Banks: A New National Standard, summarizing the first five years of land bank activity since the state’s passage of the 2011 Land Bank Act. The report serves as a resource for local officials, state leaders, public and private funders, and other parties to learn the strategies and achievements of land banks in combating vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties.

New York State Land Banks: A New National Standard, published in partnership with the Center for Community Progress, highlights the impact of New York land banks’ critical stewardship of 1,989 acquired vacant and abandoned properties through stabilization/renovation, demolition where necessary, and responsible disposition with clear development goals and beneficial uses. As of the end of 2016, NYLBA’s members have leveraged approximately $32 million in initial funding from the New York Attorney General’s Office to attract over $77 million in private development investment and return over $28 million in assessed value to the tax rolls. As the professional association for New York land banks, NYLBA offers legal and policy guidance, public advocacy, and a forum for sharing best practices and new ideas. A major focus of NYLBA going forward will be identifying and pursuing recurring, reliable sources of funding for the state’s land banks.

Syracuse Land Bank House, “Before” (click on image to enlarge)

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank (GSLB) was established in 2012 to address abandoned, tax-delinquent, and vacant properties throughout Onondaga County, primarily in the City of Syracuse. To date, the GSLB has sold 440 properties, returning $15.9 million in assessed value to the local tax rolls, generating $800,000 in new

local property taxes annually. They have taken in over 1,300 foreclosed properties, helping the City become a more effective collector of delinquent taxes; since creating the Land Bank the City has collected $10.8 million in delinquent taxes above and beyond historic collection levels, enabling them to provide the Land Bank with $6 million in financial assistance. The Land Bank has demolished 175 blighted structures, but has
over 250 more in its inventory that need demolition and anticipates that there are about 150 demolition candidates that have yet to be foreclosed.

Syracuse Land Bank House, “After” (click on image to enlarge)

Onondaga County Legislature Chairman, Ryan McMahon, states: “I have been a strong supporter of the Greater Syracuse Land Bank. The success of our land bank is measured by much more than properties renovated and sold. Nearly 200 blighted structures have been demolished in an effort to restore the public’s safety and revive neighborhoods. As we factor in the increases in delinquent tax collections, private

investment in our city and the addition of almost $1 million in annual property tax revenue, it is clear that the Greater Syracuse Land Bank’s multifaceted mission is working to rebuild our city one property at a time.”

By being the default recipient of foreclosed properties they have been able to consolidate small parcels into larger development sites across the City, better able to attract investment. The Land Bank’s site-assembly efforts enabled Housing Visions to apply for Low Income Housing Tax Credits from NY state, which they have been awarded, enabling a $16 million investment on Butternut Street which will begin later this year and result in 56 new units of affordable rental housing and new construction improving the aesthetics of this street, bolstering the surrounding housing market.

State Senator David Valesky reflects, “Before the creation of the Greater Syracuse Land Bank in 2012, the large number of abandoned and vacant properties contributed to low property values and delinquent taxes. I am pleased to see results in the form of 1,300 properties acquired and approximately $16 million in assessed value returned to the tax rolls.”

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank was recently awarded an additional $2 million in funding from the New York State Attorney General’s Land Bank Community Revitalization Initiative, the largest individual grant awarded, which will be used to demolish 56 blighted structures and substantially renovate or build new eight homes for sale to income-qualified owner-occupants.

New York State Land Banks: A New National Standard is being distributed statewide by NYLBA members and was developed with support from the Center for Community Progress and the Newburgh Community Land Bank. It is available online at www.nylandbanks.org.

“Communities across New York are finding land banks to be flexible tools that can be adapted to their local challenges and enable them to take control of abandoned properties, giving them more options for short term intervention and the ability to plan for longer-term neighborhood revitalization,” said Katelyn Wright, president of the NYLBA. “There are now 20 land banks across New York, created by local governments ready to proactively address the problems of abandoned property. The New York Land Bank Association has evolved over the past five years into a powerful advocate for land banks and for communities facing blight and abandonment. We’re excited to share this report outlining our collective achievements over the past five years and the challenges that lie ahead.”

“The accomplishments of the New York land banking movement in its first five years are quite remarkable and show what’s possible when there are dedicated public sector leaders working with community partners on a shared commitment to transform vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties into assets for neighbors and neighborhoods,” said Kim Graziani, VP and Director of National Technical Assistance of the Center for Community Progress. “New York has set the bar high in the national field of practice. We congratulate all those who have made this work happen and look forward to supporting continued success across the state.”

Land banking began in New York following the passage of the New York Land Bank Act in 2011, which authorized the creation of land banks as a tool to address the impacts of property vacancy, abandonment and foreclosure across the state. In New York, land banks are local public authorities. While the Land Bank Act had previously capped the number of authorized land banks at 20, the limit was increased to 25 as part of the most recent state budget negotiation. The land banks currently in operation are:

  •  Albany County Land Bank Corporation
  •  Allegany County Land Bank Corporation
  •  Broome County Land Bank Corporation
  •  Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corporation
  •  Capital Region Land Reutilization Corporation
  •  Cattaraugus County Land Bank Corporation
  •  Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation
  •  Chemung County Land Bank Corporation
  •  Finger Lakes Regional Land Bank Corporation
  •  Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank Corporation
  •  Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation
  •  Nassau County Land Bank Corporation
  •  Newburgh Community Land Bank
  •  Oswego County Land Bank Corporation
  •  Rochester Land Bank Corporation
  •  Steuben County Land Bank Corporation
  •  Suffolk County Land Bank Corporation
  •  Sullivan County Land Bank Corporation
  •  Tioga County Property Development Corporation
  •  Troy Community Land Bank

According to research by the Center for Community Progress, there are approximately 170 land banks and land banking programs across the country as of 2016. New York now has the third highest number of modern day land banks, behind only Ohio and Michigan.

About the Greater Syracuse Land Bank

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank was one of the first land banks formed in New York State. It returns vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties to productive use. The GLSB is governed by a five-member board of directors appointed by the City’s Common Council, the County Legislature, the Syracuse Mayor, and the County Executive. More information is available at www.syracuselandbank.org.