Land Banking Case Studies: Genesee County Land Bank Authority - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Land Banking Case Studies: Genesee County Land Bank Authority

Cities and counties across the country and in our region are exploring land banks as a promising strategy for addressing vacant properties. This five-part series on land banking on MPC’s blog, The Connector, is intended to inform policymakers and practitioners in northeastern Illinois and other regions—most notably in Cook Countyas they explore options for addressing the vacant and abandoned buildings crisis. 

Each time a new post is added, we will update this homepage, www.metroplanning.org/landbanks. Please bookmark this page as a resource. 

Case Study 2: Genesee County Land Bank Authority
The Michigan State Legislature streamlined its tax foreclosure process first in 1999 with the passage of PA 123 and again in 2004 with PA 258. These two acts created a more efficient system for returning tax-reverted properties to productive use by transferring ownership of foreclosed properties to the local County Treasurer after only two-and-a-half years. Under these acts, the Genesee County Land Reutilization Council was established in 2002. It subsequently transformed into the Genesee County Land Bank Authority. In 2011, Genesee County reported approximately 23,000 vacant houses.

Programs
The land bank’s mission is to acquire, develop, and sell vacant and abandoned properties. To achieve this mission, the land bank is responsible for the demolition of homes that are abandoned and considered harmful to the neighborhood. It is also responsible for renovating and selling or renting homes at market rates. Several programs allow for the transfer of lots to individuals or community organizations. These lots are typically made available for greening and gardening projects and do not have buildings. Lots can be adopted, leased at a low rate, or purchased. The Clean and Green program provides the opportunity for community groups to maintain and green multiple properties held by the land bank. This program promotes greening activities that move beyond traditional lawn maintenance and instead emphasizes gardens, tree plantings, and pocket parks. The land bank has also partnered with the Genesee County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to secure grants to remediate and redevelop brownfield sites. Through its planning activities, it also supports the development of strategies to revitalize natural areas and promote smart growth within the county. As part of this approach, the land bank also maintains a property development team tasked with identifying development opportunities on land bank owned parcels, as well as devising plans and strategies to complete the full development of the site. The land bank also maintains a database of properties for sale as well as a map with locations of foreclosures.

Operations
The land bank receives hundreds of vacant properties annually through the tax foreclosure process. After a tax foreclosed property is deeded to the local County Treasurer, the land bank has the option to purchase the property prior to and at property tax sale auctions. If properties are not sold at auction, they are transferred to the land bank. This process allows the land bank to acquire, rehab and sell higher value properties to cross-subsidize lower value properties and help fund their maintenance or demolition costs.

Funding for its operations is provided through the tax foreclosure process, sales, rental program, grants, loans, and bonds. In addition, the land bank utilizes a tax recapture process as a mechanism to increase its funding. Through the use of tax recapture, the land bank receives a portion of the property taxes of the formerly land banked properties retuned to the tax rolls. Fifty percent of the property taxes are returned to the land bank for the first five years following the sale of a land bank property. 

The Board of Directors is comprised of representatives from the Genesee County Board of Commissioners, the City of Flint, and Flint Township. The land bank also maintains a Board of Advisors, which provides the public with a greater opportunity to provide input. The Board of Advisors is an 18-member body with one representative from each of the wards in Flint and each of the County districts.

From 2002 to 2011, 13,383 properties completed the tax foreclosure process. Of these, 10,721 were acquired by or transferred to the land bank, and the rest were purchased at auction by other buyers. Almost 3,000 of the land bank’s properties have since been sold.

The 2012 inventory includes 8,200 properties with 4,600 vacant residential in abandoned areas in Flint and Beecher, 300 abandoned commercial and industrial properties that need to be demolished, and 3,300 residential structures that need to be demolished. The land bank sold 424 properties in 2010 and 645 properties in 2011.
 

Year

Number of  Tax Foreclosures

Number of Properties Sold at Auction

Number of Properties Acquired by the Land Bank

Number of Properties Sold by the Land Bank

Net Property Gain by the Land Bank

 

(1)

(2)

(3) = (1) – (2)

(4)

(5) = (3) – (4)

2002

683

0

683

0

683

2003

1048

0

1048

134

914

2004

810

286

524

145

379

2005

1015

353

662

186

476

2006

995

153

842

226

616

2007

872

371

501

367

134

2008

1211

394

817

279

538

2009

1555

329

1226

377

849

2010

2317

359

1958

424

1534

2011

2877

417

2460

645

1814

Total

13383

2662

10721

2783

7937

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