The Kansas City Land Bank will finally gets its chance to prove whether or not it is the answer to the cycle of blight within local neighborhoods.

The land bank agency’s five-member board and city officials have held two meetings since its creation on Aug. 28 and since established formal operations with the adoption of bylaws, Deputy Director David Park of the Neighborhoods and Housing Services Department told HousingWire.

Within the coming months, the land bank will receive up to 4,000 tax foreclosed abandoned properties from the Jackson County Land Trust, which before lacked the authority to rehabilitate as well as resell the properties.

By taking over the properties from the land trust — most of which are vacant lots — the land bank will provide more flexibility as to how the properties can be put back on the market for productive use. The lank bank will automatically purchase properties that have gone up three times for public auction without being sold.

The board will also continue to create policy and procedures for the land bank including whom to sell the properties to as well as who will control the sale of the properties, Park said.

“If we reduced the number of abandoned properties then that will improve the conditions in the neighborhoods and improve property values,” he stated.

The estimated numbers of vacant, nuisance properties were about 4,000 in 2009. Last year, the number of vacant homes jumped up to 12,000. In some areas, the vacancy rates were as high as 25%, according the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

The land bank will have substantial revenue sources such as proceeds from real estate sales and the first three years of property taxes from new owners. Eventually, the land bank could hold the power to issue bonds.

Although the land bank has not received any purchases it yet, the biggest potential market of buyers is the “next-door neighbor” — nearby homeowners or developers.

“There have been declining populations throughout the neighborhoods and in Kansas City, we believe the trend can be stabilized and reversed,” Park said.

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