Guest Column

Land bank produces more tax-generating entities

June 14, 2013
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The Kent County Land Bank Authority facilitates economic development through one of the most effective economic drivers: real estate. Working with its partners and the community, the KCLBA evaluated existing needs and created a responsive plan that guides its work to improve neighborhoods throughout Kent County.

In 2003, the state of Michigan passed the Land Bank Fast Track Act, which governs the activities of all land banks and aims to achieve the goal of strengthening and revitalizing the economy. This legislation gave the KCLBA the use of many unique tools, such as an expedited quiet title process, that help achieve its mission of quickly returning property to a productive use in our community.

The KCLBA focuses on bringing these tools to local units of government, nonprofit and for-profit developers, as these entities work to improve communities throughout Kent County. At the most basic level, the KCLBA offers another means of restoring these often distressed and undesirable properties — the more entities working on the betterment of our community, the faster we’ll be able to collectively attain this objective.

The KCLBA acquires properties via donations and the tax-foreclosure process, which allows the states, local units of government and the county the opportunity to acquire any or all properties prior to a public auction. State law allows these entities to sell or transfer properties to a buyer. The KCLBA has been approached by local governments to discuss the transfer of such properties for the purpose of rehabilitating them and returning them to productive use, thereby benefiting the city, the county and the neighborhood.

By purchasing and facilitating the rehabilitation of tax-foreclosed properties, the KCLBA helps local government stabilize property values, eliminate blight, create economic development opportunities and preserve a neighborhood’s character. Additionally, the KCLBA’s work quickly re-establishes properties as tax-generating entities, thereby providing funding for vital programs and services, while also saving government significant dollars that are regularly spent in policing, inspecting and monitoring foreclosed properties.

Through its work with local nonprofits as well as public and private organizations, the KCLBA has helped facilitate the stabilization and continued growth of numerous areas of our community.

Those that oversee economic development in communities throughout Kent County recognize the positive effect the KCLBA has on the county. Kara Wood, the economic development director for the city of Grand Rapids, said: “The Kent County Land Bank is a strategic neighborhood development tool for the city of Grand Rapids that supports growth and investment within our city's neighborhoods. It assists in returning tax reverted, dilapidated and unclaimed land to productive use more rapidly than would have been possible otherwise.”

In 2012 alone, the KCLBA worked with 59 properties, generating an impressive $4.8 million in economic impact.

The KCLBA continually collaborates with partners to identify and develop innovative programs that ensure our work benefits the entire Kent County region. It is this joint effort that enables us to build a strong, prosperous community. The KCLBA looks forward to continuing its work allowing Kent County to flourish.

We invite you learn more about us and this effort, which is vital to the future of our community. For more information, please visit www.kclba.org.

David C. Allen is executive director of the Kent County Land Bank Authority.

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