July 13 2012

Fast Track Land Banking in Detroit, Michigan

Detroit foreclosuresArchitects, urban planners, engineers, and residents realize that Detroit isn’t actually shrinking. The physical boundaries still exist, but, in many areas of the city, the density has been significantly reduced and the vacancy rates increased. Fortunately, land banks can be an effective way to manage this underutilized space and generate tax revenue.

According to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), “land banks are governmental or nongovernmental nonprofit entities that focus on the conversion of vacant, abandoned properties into productive uses.” Land banks are financial mechanisms, which offer place-based incentives for development, as well as a long-term community development tool for urban planners.

Abandoned and foreclosed lots often give a bad image to the city, decreasing adjacent property values, attracting crime, and interrupting public services. In order to provide, maintain, and grow, cities depend on taxes, and abandoned land costs the city, rather than providing revenue for it. In 2004, then Michigan Governor Granholm signed into law the Land Bank Fast Track Legislation, Public Act (PA) 258, in order to expedite the legal process already on the books (PA 123).

The concept of land banking took off in Genesee County, Michigan in 2002 and has since established ten unique programs:

  1. Planning and Outreach;
  2. Brownfield Redevelopment;
  3. Development;
  4. Adobt-a-Lot;
  5. Clean and Green;
  6. Demolition;
  7. Housing Renovation;
  8. Sales;
  9. Side Lot Transfer;
  10. and Foreclosure Prevention.

The Genesee County Land Bank Authority has enabled the “re-use of more than 4,000 residential, commercial, and industrial properties” since its conception and provides a great model for Detroit to follow.

A 2010 article, The Incredible Shrinking American City: What Dan Kildee wants America to learn from the sorry tale of Flint, Mich., tells the narrative of the Genesee County Lank Bank and why it’s so important to our automotive cities. There are land bank critics, every community has to forge their own path. According to Kildee, land banks “should be focused on transformative, catalytic policies.”

The Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA) is one of eight land banks in the state of Michigan federally-funded through Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) grant, managed by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). “Restoring Community. One Household at a Time,” DLBA has several projects in progress.

With a sustainable and people-first mission, DLBA aims to:

  1. Hire local developers and contractors to rehabilitate vacant houses;
  2. Create multifamily housing opportunities;
  3. Remove blight from Detroit neighborhoods.

Challenges and opportunities intertwined. Does your community utilize land banking?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Alexandria Stankovich

Alexandria Stankovich graduated from The University of Michigan with a B.S. in Architecture. In order to gain an authentic understanding of the urban context through the lens of education, she became a Denver, Colorado corps member with Teach for America, teaching elementary Special Education. Returning to metro-Detroit, Michigan, Alexandria writes about the innovative design projects and urban programs taking place in the Motor City. Fueled by her passions for the triple bottom line - environment, economy, and social equity – Alexandria is now working on her Masters in Urban & Regional Planning. She is specializing in Physical Planning and Real Estate Development.

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This entry was posted on Friday, July 13th, 2012 at 3:48 pm and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Government/Politics, Housing, Urban Development/Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “Fast Track Land Banking in Detroit, Michigan”

  1. Lisa Pappas Says:

    Hi Alexandria,

    I’m peeking at your writing samples and work background. Very interesting and impressive.

    Lisa Pappas

  2. Alexandria Stankovich Says:


    Thank you for reading. I hope you will continue to visit our Global Site Plans community.

    Detroit GRID Blogger

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