Danville land bank, non-profit being created to help fight blight

Danville will be first in state to use land bank

DANVILLE – Dealing with blighted properties is a never-ending task for the city.

But because the city has so many other issues to deal with as well, it's also a task that doesn't get as much attention as is needed in order to really address and ultimately reduce blight.

To help expedite blight eradication, Councilman Lee Vogler approached local state delegate Danny Marshal at the beginning of the year about getting state legislation passed to make land banks more feasible for cities.

"Some of the property that the city is already in possession of and having to maintain through mowing the grass and other things, this land bank entity will take these properties and they'll auction them off," said Vogler.

The land bank entity will be managed by the nonprofit neighborhood development corporation.

The city is in the final stages of getting the nonprofit up and running.

When selling properties, certain restrictions will be placed on the properties to ensure that the buyers will actually rehab them.

Vogler said without the state legislation, this process would be too complicated to be worth doing.

Now though, with the nonprofit taking over the blighted properties, the city could save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

"You're looking anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 per house. So right off the bat, we're looking at a couple hundred thousand dollars," Vogler explained.

Deputy City Manager Earl Reynolds said the non-profit should be up and running in a few weeks.

"Our focus area will be middle income housing opportunities," said Reynolds.

The city has identified middle income housing as the type of housing that is most in demand but also the most lacking in the city.

As for how the nonprofit will be structured and will operate, city leaders plan to travel to Youngstown, Ohio in July to learn about how a similar program is running there.

Reynolds said the program in Youngstown is considered one of the best in the country.

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