New land bank promotes economic, community development in the Southland - Metropolitan Planning Council

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New land bank promotes economic, community development in the Southland

At its quarterly forum last Friday, the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation (CSEDC) announced the brand new South Suburban Land Bank and Development Authority (SSLBA).

A land bank is a public or community-owned entity created to acquire, maintain, and repurpose vacant, abandoned and foreclosed properties. The SSLBA has been formed through an intergovernmental agreement passed by the Village of Park Forest, City of Oak Forest and City of Blue Island. These three municipalities are coordinating with Cook County to aggressively redevelop properties that have become tax delinquent and/or abandoned due to foreclosures. Once fully operational, all Southland municipalities will be invited to become members of the land bank.

Adam Dotson, Oak Forest’s community development director, who also serves on the board of the land bank, explained to the audience that the SSLBA will be able to:

  • Acquire homes through purchase, donations from banks, tax foreclosure process, and other sources;
  • Hold and manage properties; and
  • Sell homes for profit so other properties can be acquired and managed with the returns.

The SSLBA gives member municipalities a strategic regional economic development tool with dedicated staff, expertise, and resources. “It’s a good idea to pool funds”, says Mark Miller, Blue Island’s project coordinator and SSLBA board member. “Working together, we can make more progress towards our goals”.

As deputy executive director of housing for the SSMMA/Chicago Southland Housing and Community Development Collaborative, Janice Morrissy also knows that the land bank is not just an opportunity to restore homes. “This land bank will provide a structure through which we can raise funds from grants and donations and work closely with banks and other partner agencies to enhance housing options and housing planning in the south suburbs,” she said. "Long-term planning gives participating south suburban communities a compass by which to operate in the future, and also serves as a reminder of the ultimate goal of such efforts: serving the residents, future residents and businesses who make up this part of our region."

Reggie Greenwood, director of economic development of the CSEDC, summed up the day’s sentiments for the largely business crowd by asking that we think about economic, housing and community development as parts of the same equation. “We have a real opportunity to have sustainable economic growth in the Southland," he said. "With our partners, we are building opportunities to create jobs, and to create housing. Housing and jobs go together.”

MPC staff is working closely with the SSLBA founders to begin implementing the first phase, including hiring an Executive Director and preparing to acquire properties in early 2013. MPC supports the efforts of the SSLBA, both in theory and in practice, and we are eager to utilize the tool to support our neighborhoods and region.

Know someone who might be interested in the position? Click here for more information on the opening.


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For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

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