Both Mayor Dennis Williams and Wilmington Council President Theo Gregory back land bank plan to spur reinvestment in city neighborhoods.
It seems that there isn’t much agreement these days between Mayor Williams and Council President Gregory, but an effort to revitalize blighted neighborhoods is one area the two can support.
Williams and Gregory issued a joint statement ahead of the city council’s consideration of the land bank proposal on Thursday. The land bank “will strengthen neighborhood life and preserve the value of one of our most cherished possessions which are our homes,” Williams said.
The proposed Wilmington Conservancy Land Bank Corporation will allow the city to pool resources with non-profit and for-profit development agencies to purchase abandoned properties for redevelopment.
Governor Jack Markell signed legislation last month that enabled land banks to be established in Delaware. Under the new law, any municipality with a long-term vacancy rate above three percent would be eligible to create a land bank.
Currently about 15 percent or 5,000 of Wilmington’s 28,000 residential properties is vacant. “Blight and vacant properties harm our local economy to the tune of multiple millions of dollars each year and prevent neighborhoods from prospering,” said Gregory.