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Clark County land bank gets $680K to fight blight

The Clark County land bank will receive $680,000 from the state to acquire and demolish nearly 50 blighted and abandoned properties in Springfield.

The Clark County Land Reutilization Corp. was awarded the money through the Neighborhood Initiative Program this week to rid area neighborhoods of dilapidated homes and abandoned proprieties, and return them into productive uses.

The land bank, which formed about four months ago, was one of 15 agencies statewide that received the neighborhood grant money from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

Clark County currently has more than 500 properties on the forfeited land list, which means the properties have gone to a sheriff’s sale twice and haven’t been sold.

Of those proprieties, the land bank plans to acquire 48 properties in targeted neighborhoods for redevelopment in the city of Springfield, Clark County Community Development Grant Coordinator David Fleck said.

“What we’re trying to do is go in, acquire these proprieties, demolish the structures and then find a reuse for the property that’s going to make the community a better place. Ultimately, we’d like to find ways to get more proprieties paying taxes,” he said.

“We could have been funded up to $1.7 million, but because there were so many other entities applying, we knew we weren’t going to get that much. We were just shooting for the minimum ($500,000) and the fact that we got $680,000 was a big win for us,” Fleck said.

Fifteen of the 22 counties with established land banks received a portion of $10.4 million from the program, which is designed to prevent foreclosures and stabilize local property values through the demolition of vacant and blighted homes across the state.

The Butler County Land Reutilization Corp. received $2 million and Montgomery County’s land bank received $54,900.

The funding amounts were based on population, and the magnitude of vacant and blighted properties owned or identified for acquisition in the area, according to OHFA.

“Foreclosures result in distressed sales that further depress property values and continue the downward spiral, too often resulting in vacant and blighted homes. The Neighborhood Initiative Program is a critical component to stabilizing home values and preventing foreclosures,” said OHFA Executive Director Doug Garver in a statement.

Under conditions of the grant, the land bank must acquire at least 10 properties by March 2015. Other requirements of the grant call for the demolition of structures on the land and holding the property for three years before determining what to do with the land.

Or, if land bank officials want to move the property within the three year period, they can allow a neighboring property owner to purchase the property at low cost or allow a nonprofit agency to acquire the property.

Clark County Community Development Director Tom Hale said the local land bank may begin purchasing property in September. He credited city and county commissioners as well as the county treasurer for supporting the project.

Springfield Community Development Director Shannon Meadows she was pleased and proud that the new land bank received the grant.

The money will allow the land bank to address blighted properties that have sat idle and had a negative impact on area neighborhoods, she said.

“It’s a win for the entire community,” Meadows said.

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