Land bank plans to reclaim abandoned Philly properties from blight

 Philadelphia City Councilwoman Maria D. Quinones-Sanchez speaks as Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter looks on during a January signing ceremony for an ordinance creating the  municipal land bank. (AP file photo)

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Maria D. Quinones-Sanchez speaks as Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter looks on during a January signing ceremony for an ordinance creating the municipal land bank. (AP file photo)

A Philadelphia City Council committee approved a strategic plan Monday to tackle the city’s epidemic of blighted properties.

The plan is a roadmap for a new agency known as a “land bank,” whose goal is to get Philadelphia’s tens of thousands of vacant properties back into productive use.

Michael Koonce, interim chairman of the land bank’s board, said the plan is a good step forward.

“It will help reverse blight in struggling neighborhoods, support the provisions of affordable housing,” he said. “It will benefit existing residents and businesses. It will generate activity and jobs, and it will strengthen the city financially.”

Roughly 8,000 vacant properties in Philadelphia are publicly owned. The land bank’s goal is to dispose of 2,250 of them by 2019.

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