Landbank Authority sells 90 properties in 2020

January 13, 2021

Despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Landbank Authority continued its work to return properties to productive use through the sale of vacant and abandoned lots in 2020.

The Landbank Authority approved the sale of 90 properties last year during its meetings, held mostly virtually, on the second Monday of each month. The properties were sold through multiple programs that allow residents and small developers to purchase city-owned vacant and abandoned properties at below-market rate and repurpose them as rentals, single-family homes, side yards and more.

In 2021, the Landbank Authority will be increasing its focus on advancing racial equity in Louisville. The Landbank Authority is undertaking a racial equity review of its programs to identify ways the programs can be improved.  It has launched new partnerships aimed at increasing Black homeownership and preventing displacement.

“The Landbank Authority remains a successful way for Louisville to reduce blight in neighborhoods by working with neighborhood-based developers and residents who live in the neighborhoods where many vacant structures and lots are located to ensure proper maintenance and redevelopment,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “I continue to support state legislation that would expand the tools currently available to cities, including creating conservatorships, which allow us to return vacant and abandoned properties more quickly to productive use.”

In addition to the property sales, the Landbank Authority in 2020 launched a 24-month preferred developer pilot with REBOUND to help the west Louisville-based nonprofit meet the goal described in the A Path Forward plan to empower 100 Black households to achieve homeownership by June 2022 through greater access to Landbank-owned properties.

Separately, REBOUND, along with partners Bates Community Development Corp., Center for Neighborhoods and River City Housing, also will work with the authority to secure appropriate sites for a community land trust in the Russell and Smoketown neighborhoods following their successful response to a city-issued Request for Proposals. A community land trust is a tool to create permanently affordable homeownership opportunities and prevent displacement.

A breakdown of the programs and 2020 sales is as follows:

  • Last Look—Save The Structure (13 sales): Landbank Authority-owned vacant structures that are demolition candidates are available in this program. Before purchase, buyers must show proof of funds for the exterior renovation/stabilization and must make exterior repairs within six months and interior repairs within 18 months of closing. Community Development staff has filmed virtual tours of these properties in 2020.
  • Side yard (12): This program is available for next-door neighbors of a Landbank Authority-owned lot who want to expand their property.
  • Cut It, Keep It (18): Property owners of an occupied home or building on the same block as a Landbank Authority-owned vacant lot can purchase that lot through this maintenance program. Resale restrictions apply, unless developed within the first three years.
  • Request For Proposal (20): Some Landbank Authority-owned vacant structures available for sale are structurally sound and safe to walk through. These homes are offered through a bi-monthly Request For Proposal process. Community Development staff has filmed virtual tours of these properties in 2020. Proof of funds for the renovations must be provided.
  • Budget Rate (14): Buyers can use the budget rate policy to purchase a Landbank Authority-owned vacant lot if they can provide detailed plans, proof of funds, an itemized budget and project timeline. Sale price ranges from $500 to $1,000 for lots under 10,000 square feet.
  • Last Look—Demo For Deed (13): Landbank Authority-owned vacant structures that are demolition candidates are available in this program. If a buyer shows proof of funds that they can pay for the demolition of the structure, they may purchase it without restrictions on the redevelopment or resale of the property. Approvals are still needed by the Offices of Planning & Design Services and Construction Review.

There are an estimated 5,000 vacant and abandoned properties in Louisville, of which the Landbank Authority currently owns 630. The remaining properties are in the hands of private property owners, sometimes deceased residents or dissolved LLCs. Through foreclosures and property donations, the Office of Community Development works to purchase vacant properties with the intent of reselling them through the programs detailed above as well as through its Flex Rate program, Solicitations of Interest and metro-led redevelopment.

In late 2020, the Office of Community Development staff hosted a series of online Lunch and Learn events to provide more details and answer residents’ questions about the Landbank Authority and how to purchase properties through the authority. Those videos can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/DevelopLouisville/423602952095174/.

The Landbank Authority, which is staffed by the Office of Community Development, is a nearly 30-year-old board that represents a cooperative effort by the three main taxing entities—Louisville Metro Government, Jefferson County Public Schools and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Similar authorities exist in cities and counties around the United States.

To view all Landbank Authority-owned property and learn more about the programs, please visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/community-development.

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