Interface Studio to develop Land Bank Strategic Plan

Philly passed a new milestone on the long road to realizing its future Land Bank: On Friday the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation’s Board of directors voted to name Philadelphia-based Interface Studio as the lead consultant to create the Land Bank’s strategic plan.

Interface will work with Land Bank and Planning Commission staff to develop a data-driven approach to the city’s inventory of vacant properties. The strategic plan will incorporate market analysis and priorites articulated developed district and neighborhood plans, and ultimately propose geographic clusters of properties that are approrpiate for disposition, reuse, acquisition, and ongoing maintenance.

The five-year strategic plan is a key element that will help to ensure that the Land Bank has a coherent strategy and clear priorities for vacant parcels. The plan should, therefore, help create a less transactional environment surrounding vacant land decisions.

Interface has worked locally on several community-driven plans for many Philly neighborhoods – including plans for Eastern North Philadelphia, Mantua, and Yorktown – and developed a study on the market potential of Philly’s industrial lands. 

This summer Interface will develop a draft of the strategic plan, with the goal of a public release and public hearing come October. The final plan will be submitted to City Council for approval toward the end of the year.

Looking ahead, the interim Land Bank Board will need to be replaced with permanent appointees. Mayor Nutter and City Council will each appoint five people to serve on the permanent board of the Land Bank, and those 10 members will collectively appoint an 11th member. “The earliest this process can happen is the fall of this year,” said Office of Housing and Community Development spokeswoman Jamila Davis.

The Land Bank will be operational once the permanent board is in place, the Land Bank itself is incorporated (expected this summer), and after Council approves the strategic plan.

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