Philly’s new land bank expected to be fully operational by end of ’14

The Philadelphia City Council adopted an ambitious plan last week to create a “land bank” as a clearinghouse for thousands of city-owned properties. Supporters say the new entity will make it easier for the city to unload its 10,000 unused buildings and lots, thereby reducing eyesores and improving the local economy.

All that won’t happen overnight, of course.

John Carpenter, deputy executive director for the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, said the land bank should be fully operational by the end of 2014.

First, Mayor Michael Nutter must sign the bill, which he is expected to do. Afterward, Carpenter said, four big steps are needed to get the land bank up and running.

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The land bank must become officially incorporated; secure additional funding during next year’s budget process; and acquire property from other city agencies and tax-delinquent owners, he said. It also needs a strategic plan, which is subject to approval by City Council.

“We expect the land bank strategic plan to be deferential to the comprehensive plan that’s being developed by the city and the neighborhood plans that are already out there,” he said, “that have described in much more detail the needs of the community in various ways.”

By law, the land bank must hold a public hearing on its strategic plan before adoption.

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