vacant housing

Credit Some rights reserved / Kake Pugh

New legislation recently signed into law, amends the state’s land bank legislation introduced by the Cuomo administration in 2011.

Land Banks are mechanisms for acquiring or demolishing abandoned properties which are no longer contributing to the tax roll.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Declining populations and shuttered factories have left rustbelt cities - like Buffalo or Rochester - with numerous vacant and abandoned properties. They can be old homes, former warehouses, or out-of-favor shopping centers.

Municipalities face the challenge of how to get those properties back into productive use.

Kevin Caravati is an urban green space expert with the Georgia Tech Research Institute. He calls those empty sites "red fields" - a play on the term for environmentally contaminated sites known as "brownfields." He has worked in cities across the country, including Atlanta and Cleveland, to turn vacant properties into parks, gardens or nature sites.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Renovations have slowly been continuing on an historic home on Syracuse’s east side.

The Babcock-Shattuck House stands at the gateway to Syracuse’s Westcott neighborhood. It’s also a rare empty property in an otherwise vibrant area.

It was built around 1895 and last served as a home for Jewish war veterans. It's been empty since the late 1980's.

Now, the University Neighborhood Preservation Association is working to convert the vacant property into four condos.

The Syracuse Common Council voted Monday to give the city's newly formed land bank a loan for startup costs and to share property tax revenue so the land bank can function over the long term, but some felt the details of those plans left a lot to be desired.

What was approved is a $250,000 loan to the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation to help with startup costs along with a promise the city will share the expected increase in back property tax payments it will collect.

Jinjian Liang / via Flickr

It began sending out foreclosure notices for the first time last month, but a long-term funding source for Syracuse and Onondaga County's newly formed land bank is just starting to come into focus; though some details remain to be worked out.

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