Our County Land Bank

Tired of seeing abandoned and un-maintained properties? These are eyesores and they make our neighborhoods unattractive, undesirable, and lower the value. Well, there is a solution in progress. Let me introduce you to the Land Bank, our county’s strategy to reclaim these properties and restore them to serving useful roles in our communities.

The Land Bank (officially, the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation, which was created in 2012) acts on behalf of Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse to acquire, redevelop, and improve tax delinquent, vacant or abandoned property. The restoration of these devastated properties will begin to revive neighborhoods to encourage economic opportunities throughout Onondaga County.

While the operation is in its infancy, strides have been made to set up the organization and begin its acquisition of tax delinquent properties. Obtaining working capital was an initial struggle at first and the largest expense, to date, has been the legal transactions of acquiring 165 properties. A majority of the properties are within the City boundaries; however, a grant received from the State Attorney General is being used to acquire and renovate ten properties within the inner-ring suburbs, working with Onondaga County’s Division of Community Development. These properties are for the county’s Homebuyer Program, which sells homes to low-moderate income first-time home buyers. Four properties have already been retained for this project, in the Village of East Syracuse, and three in the Town of Onondaga with prospective of additional municipalities being added.

The focus of the Land Bank is to allow the city and county to foreclose on tax delinquent property, extinguish the tax liens, and give the title to the Land Bank. This will allow an investor to come in, renovate the property, and put it back on the tax roll – which is a win / win for all. The City of Syracuse’s delinquent-tax foreclosure process is the fundamental reason tax collections have increased by 3% since 2011. For this reason, the County Legislature authorized $500,000 for the Land Bank in the 2014 budget. There is a desire to expand this program into the suburbs, and specifically, suburban villages. The Land Bank recommends that villages and towns contact them directly to discuss potential properties that the Land Bank may be interested in acquiring at 422-2301. However, should you have any questions please contact my office at 699-9585 at any time about this or any other issue.

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