The Ohio Land Bank Conference

September 15th, 2014

By Nicholas J. Blaine, Project Coordinator

Last week, on September 11, I attended the Thriving Communities Institute’s 4th annual Ohio Land Bank Conference in Columbus, Ohio. The event brought together experts in the field to discuss best practices and share successes from Ohio’s 22 land banks. As a new staffer for GOPC, I saw the event as a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the role of land banks in building a sustainable Ohio.

TCI-14-conf

The morning began with remarks from Jim Rokakis, Vice President of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and Director of its Thriving Communities Institute. The conference covered a wide range of topics, from the basics of vacant property management to how hemp can be used to promote sustainable growth. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons of a GOPC Intern

September 3rd, 2014

A farewell blog post by Raquel Jones, a fantastic GOPC Intern

As a lifetime resident of the capital of Ohio, I have come to learn and appreciate the unique experiences and amenities offered through Ohio’s cities. Over the years, I have witnessed the many transformations that Columbus and many other cities in the state have gone through as they have fought to create new identities while retaining their historic presence.

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Columbus, Ohio

Although I was young when it first hit, the Great Recession had a severe impact on my neighborhood and the community that I lived in, as it did in many parts of the state. I remember noticing a rise in foreclosures in the houses surrounding mine. Looking around the core of central Ohio’s metropolitan area, I could see the harsher effects of the downturn in the economy in the high number of boarded-up homes. I found this to be extremely disheartening, as I knew that many of these homes had the potential to be beautiful and once again serve a useful purpose, if only they were given the chance.

When I enrolled in the John Glenn High School Internship program through OSU, I knew that I wanted to work with a nonprofit that was working hard in the community to make a difference. When I was given the chance to intern at the Greater Ohio Policy Center, I knew little about land banks and government-sponsored programs, such as Moving Ohio Forward and the Neighborhood Initiative Program. I am now happy to report that I am knowledgeable in both programs, as well as others. Working at the GOPC has not only taught me about the daily functions of an office, but has also informed me on the process of policy formation, and the role that nonprofits play in engaging and interacting with local, regional, and statewide governments in producing outcomes that are favorable to both parties, as well as the constituents to which these policies affect. I have also become educated in a number of nationwide movements including the call for a multi-modal city, a more sustainably secure system of infrastructure, and public spaces that transcend the mundane. Read the rest of this entry »

Attorney General’s Demolition Program Extended

September 4th, 2013

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced that he will be extended the deadline for counties wishing to apply for demolition funds under the Moving Ohio Forward Program.  The program has been a rousing success so far, demolishing almost 5,000 blighted properties across the state.

With the deadline now extended to May 31, 2014, communities will have an opportunity to apply for the full amount of funds allocated to them.  According to records posted by the Attorney General’s office, almost $5 million in funds are currently unclaimed. 

The Greater Ohio Policy Center has been providing technical assistance to counties applying for and utilizing the Moving Ohio Forward funds.  For more information on GOPC’s relationship with the Attorney General’s office, please see our web page, which gives a background on our role in this program and includes resources that can help communities make strategic use of their demolition dollars.

For more information on the program extension, please visit the Ohio Attorney General’s website.

Media Advisory for Properties Institute

April 3rd, 2012

 MEDIA ADVISORY

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alison D. Goebel
399 E. Main Street, Ste.140
Columbus, OH 43215
614-224-0187
217-841-5674
agoebel@greaterohio.org
April 3, 2012

Greater Ohio Policy Center to Hold Ohio Properties Redevelopment Institute

 Two day event will provide hands-on strategies to private and public sector leaders to generate redevelopment opportunities for Ohio’s vacant and abandoned properties.

COLUMBUS – Representatives from over 35 cities and towns in Ohio will gather here this week to examine cutting edge solutions to address problem property development challenges and generate redevelopment opportunities. The Ohio Properties Redevelopment Institute is a critical component of Greater Ohio Policy Center’s broader statewide initiative, “Healthy Properties, Rebuilding Communities,” which is shaping property redevelopment policy solutions and practices for comprehensive community revitalization in Ohio.

WHO: The Greater Ohio Policy will host more than 175 state and local leaders from Ohio’s legal, banking, property development, nonprofit, community development, and academic, communities in a two-day discussion on the challenges and opportunities to Ohio’s vacant and abandoned property crisis. 

Local practitioners, financial institutions, and state and national level redevelopment experts will offer panel discussions on strategies for redevelopment.  Professor Frank Alexander, a leading national expert on real estate finance and community redevelopment law will keynote Wednesday’s lunch.

WHAT: The two day event will arm local leaders with new property reutilization tools, showcase best practices from the private and non-profit sectors and provide opportunities for input into policy reforms that align with local community development needs.

WHEN:  Wednesday April 4, 2012 8:30am-5:30 pm and Thursday, April 5, 2012 8:30am-3:30pm.  Frank Alexander keynote is Wednesday April 4, 2012 from 11:30am-1:00pm.  A Bank Panel on strategies to keep borrowers in their homes and discussion on neighborhood stabilization will take place on Thursday April 5th from 1:30pm-3:00pm.  

WHERE:  Columbus Hyatt Regency (McKinley and Hayes Rooms)
350 N. High Street
Columbus, OH 43215

 There is a Self-Park Parking lot at the Chestnut Street Parking Garage for $12. It is located 1 block south of the hotel on Chestnut Street. When entering the garage, please take a ticket and park as normal. The garage connects to the Hyatt Regency Columbus via a covered skywalk and can be accessed on the 3rd floor of the garage.

Journalists attending the Ohio Properties Redevelopment Institute should check in with the Event Registration desk, located outside the McKinley Room. 

WHY: Vacant and abandoned properties have been on the rise in Ohio’s cities and towns for over two decades — long before the national economic downturn hit in 2008  This Institute comes at a critical time as Ohio’s communities struggle to stem the tide of vacant and  abandoned properties.  The Institute’s goals of training and education, coalition-building and policy advancement are vital economic development interventions that will productively reshape Ohio’s communities. 

ADDITIONAL DETAILS: This Institute is part of Greater Ohio Policy Center’s “Healthy Properties, Rebuilding Communities Initiative,” which aims to equip local leaders with information, policy ideas and practices necessary to make progress against this crisis and to advance state policy reforms that are aligned with local action.  Addressing the physical deterioration of our cities and town is a critical economic development strategy that will help restore our state’s prosperity as a whole. 

For additional information please visit http://greaterohio.org/initiatives/ohio-properties-redevelopment-institute, or contact Samantha Spergel at 614-224-0187 or via email at sspergel@greaterohio.org.

Mansfield Properties Conference

March 13th, 2012

Last week, Greater Ohio was in Mansfield, Ohio, participating in the 2nd Properties Conference, hosted by Downtown Mansfield, Inc. and Preservation Ohio.  The purpose of the half-day conference was to learn of the severity of the vacant and abandoned properties crisis in the area and to begin identifying solutions that will help head-off the next round of problem properties that are expected to hit the market in the next 6-18 months. Greater Ohio joined the Cleveland Federal Reserve and Preservation Ohio in discussing state wide initiatives underway that could help cities like Mansfield.

Over 50 people attended, from 6 counties, and the topic of a county land bank came up frequently as one important tool for stabilizing neighborhoods.  Jim Rokakis of the Thriving Communities Institute keynoted the event and discussed ways a county land bank could assist the city of Mansfield and other cities in Richland County in stemming the effects of vacant and abandoned properties. 

One of the most fascinating components of the Conference was a Tour of Unique Properties in Downtown Mansfield.  The walking tour took participants into an old car dealership that had been renovated to be used as office space, the 2nd floor of a historic building in Mansfield’s Carrousel District that is just ripe for condos or a beautiful restaurant. 

The most amazing property on the tour was the 11th and 12th floors of Mansfield’s tallest skyscraper—the Chase Building.  Originally, the 11th floor served as the executive office suite (it includes a kitchen and library) and the 12th floor as a modest ballroom with funky light fixtures from the 1960s.  These two floors are being remodeled to become a penthouse condo.  The Properties Conference tour was a preview to an event in May that Preservation Ohio and Downtown Mansfield, Inc. will be holding in Mansfield’s central business district: “Forbidden City Tour;” a tour that will give a “unique look at several properties that have not been seen by the general public in decades!”  What an innovative idea to tour closed up buildings and visualize the potential they have for the 21st Century!

Greater Ohio had a great time learning about efforts underway in North Central Ohio and wishes Richland County the best of luck as it continues to work towards a county land bank.

Growing Support for Franklin County Land Bank

November 7th, 2011

On Sunday, The Columbus Dispatch ran an article on the potential formation of the Franklin County Reutilization Corporation. This morning, the Dispatch had an editorial supporting the establishment of the county-wide land bank.  We applaud the Dispatch for their coverage and support of this significant development, and Ed Leonard, Franklin County Treasurer for undertaking this vital program.

Though Franklin County currently operates a land bank, they are barred from obtaining residential property. The Franklin County Reutilization Corporation could acquire foreclosed properties (including residential homes), rehabilitate them, or sell the properties qualified non-profit developers.  The City of Columbus currently has a land bank that holds almost 900 properties; the establishment of a county-wide land bank would work in conjunction with the city’s land bank to combat the vacant property crisis.    

Since the passage of both SB 535 and HB 313, in which Greater Ohio was instrumental, four counties have established land banks: Cuyahoga, Lucas, Montgomery and Trumbull.  Cuyahoga, Lucas and Trumbull counties have acquired an impressive 1900 properties.  There are an additional seven counties who are in the process of launching land banks, including Stark County and Butler County.

With the devastating problem of vacant and abandoned properties, and their negative impact on so many Ohio neighborhoods, it is imperative for the state to help cities and counties develop solutions.  Greater Ohio praises these leaders throughout the state who are implementing land banks and we are working to continue to advocate for additional state tools and solutions that will address the property challenges all our communities are facing.

On the Go: First Convening of Ohio Land Banks

October 20th, 2011

Last week Greater Ohio was on the road to Cleveland to attend the First Convening of Ohio Land Banks, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and the Thriving Communities Institute.  The purpose of the day-long gathering was to educate interested elected officials and civil servants on the possible ways a county in Ohio might establish their land bank. 

The day heavily featured Cuyahoga County’s Land Bank (i.e. Cleveland area) as it is the oldest land bank in Ohio—since 2009—and is paving the way for many of the other lank banks around the state in terms of working out logistical kinks, as well as demonstrating the success of land bank property acquisition.

Two other land banks—Lucas County (i.e. Toledo area) and Trumbull County (i.e. Warren/Youngstown area)—were also featured.  These land banks were established under legislation Greater Ohio was heavily involved in writing and passing in 2010.  (Here is the actual the legislative language of Sub HB 313 and a layman’s explanation of the bill.)

The convening was extremely useful and for the 50 or so attendees and included practical advice for future land bank staffers (ex. this is how to interface with the EPA for asbestos removal), basic education (ex. what kinds of financial abilities HB 313 grants land banks), and presentations from established Land Bank officials from around the state.

Although Trumbull, Lucas and Cuyahoga Counties have all developed significantly different programs and aims within their land banks, the biggest concern raised consistently throughout the day was that land banks could be most effective if there was adequate funding for demolitions.  At this time, there are very few funding sources for demolition—the little money that land banks receive is often paid out to staffing and overhead, and title acquisition.

Greater Ohio is very heartened by the ongoing interest and development of county land banks as we believe land banks are a critical tool in helping cities stop decline and rebuild their urban cores.  We congratulate the land banks currently in existence and are excited for the creation of more.  In the two years since SB 353 passed (which allowed Cuyahoga County to create a land bank) and HB 313 passed (which allows an additional 43 counties in Ohio to create land banks), the land banks have achieved with great success.

Some impressive statistics shared at the convening:

  • There are four land banks operating currently: Cuyahoga, Lucas, Trumbull, Montgomery.
  • Another eight or so are in the process, including: Mahoning, Hamilton, Erie, Lake, Franklin, and Stark.
  • Additional counties interested in forming a land bank but are still in the early stages: Portage, Allen, Ashtubula (by way of comparison, Michigan has 37 established county land banks.)
  • Since 2009, Cuyahoga Co. has acquired 1196 properties and transferred 408 properties to developers or cities.  The county’s current inventory is about 788.
  • Since 2010, Trumbull Co. has acquired about 450 properties.  Four hundred properties are now owned by individual homeowners and are being repurposed as residential sidelots.  Forty remain on Trumbull’s rolls.
  • Since 2010, Lucas Co. has acquired 250-300 properties.  All but one have been moved onto end-users. 

Land Bank Conference: June 5-7, 2011

February 25th, 2011

Greater Ohio Policy Center’s partner, Center for Community Progress, is hosting a Land Bank Conference in Detroit June 5-7, 2011.  Find out how to register for the conference here.

In many places across the country, land banking is becoming an integral part of community revitalization efforts, especially as America’s cities and towns have struggled to keep ahead of the foreclosure crisis and the resulting economic impacts over the past few years. Today more communities than ever are developing and strengthening land banking efforts to increase affordable housing, create market-based development opportunities, and implement alternative land reuses.

Participation in the 2011 Land Bank Conference will help you identify how land banking and tax foreclosure strategies can catalyze development of effective solutions to unlocking the value of vacant, abandoned, and problem properties.

The conference attracts hundreds of professionals from across the country and from diverse backgrounds including: elected officials, land bank staff and board members, for-profit and non-profit developers and the real estate industry, community foundations, greening initiatives, neighborhood and civic leaders, and local and state government officials.

The 2011 Land Bank Conference offers you two days of opportunities to build the effective skills and relationships needed to revitalize your communities, including:

  • Pre-conference training seminars
  • Twenty interactive breakout sessions covering a full range of issues related to land banking and tax foreclosure reform, including financing land banking operations, market-based strategies, vacant lot reutilization, and creating long-term affordable housing.
  • Two bus tours highlighting greening and redevelopment initiatives taking place in Detroit
  • Networking opportunities allowing you to exchange ideas with stakeholders from across the country.

Register by May 6 for just $150! We hope to see you there.

Building a Stronger Future: Greater Ohio Speaks to the Columbus Chapter of the American Institute of Architects

February 18th, 2011

On Tuesday evening Greater Ohio attended the monthly Columbus chapter meeting of the American Institute of Architects.  We spoke to over sixty architects—including private and public sector architects, landscape designers, and planners—about the Restoring Prosperity Initiative and how lessons learned from Europe can help Ohio and its metros compete in the next economy.  We shared with the AIA some grim statistics, including declining population numbers in our urban cores, large numbers of vacant and abandoned properties throughout the state, and numerous layers of local government. But we concluded our presentation with firm evidence that Ohio can compete in the next economy.  Ohio has incredible assets, such as “eds and meds” anchor institutions, and has policies, like Land Bank legislation which assists local communities in controlling and repurposing vacant and abandoned property.

Ann Pendleton-Jullian of Ohio State University’s Knowlton School of Architecture followed Greater Ohio’s presentation and discussed—using studio projects from graduate seminars—the strengths inherent to Ohio’s physical and cultural landscape.  Pendleton-Jullian suggested Ohio’s location “in the middle” of the country and in the middle of the Midwest ideally positions Ohio to be central in next economy, which she sees as creative and innovative.  Pendleton-Jullian also pointed to Ohio’s incredible number of colleges and universities and the roles they will play in educating for the creative economy.  In further developing the mission of the state’s land-grant institutions as serving the state, Ohio is well positioned to develop an “educational ecosystem” which would greatly complement many of the policies for which Greater Ohio is advocating.

Greater Ohio looks forward to public forums like these because it gives us an opportunity to educate Ohioans about our mission and receive feedback on our research and policy recommendations.  We especially enjoy speaking events where dialogues develop between our work and other exciting programs which are also striving to grow Ohio’s economy and improve Ohioans’ quality of life.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like us to come speak to your organization.

2011 Land Bank Conference

January 7th, 2011

One of our partners, the Center for Community Progress, is hosting the 2011 Land Bank Conference, which will take place June 5-7, 2011 at the Motor City Casino Hotel in Detroit, Michigan.  They are currently accepting ideas for session topics and presentations through January 15, 2011. For more information please visit the Center for Community Progress website or click here for to submit your session proposal idea.