MPC and ULI Chicago Roundtable - Cook County Land Bank: Returning Vacant Land to Productive Use
Vacant, abandoned and blighted properties impede Cook County’s economic development, weaken the tax base, and impose significant costs to local governments. A countywide land bank is needed to return large swaths of land to productive use and stabilize local communities across Cook County. With approximately 10 percent of housing units in Cook County standing vacant and foreclosure activity up 28 percent in the first half of 2012, Cook County Commissioners and President Toni Preckwinkle authorized the creation of a Land Bank Advisory Committee (LBAC). The LBAC, chaired by MPC’s MarySue Barrett, consisted of civic, financial, legal, and community development professionals charged with examining the challenges, tools and potential for a countywide land bank. The Committee put forth a set of recommendations, captured in the current Cook County Land Bank ordinance, to create a Land Bank Authority as an agency of the County that is governed by an independent Board of Directors. The LBAC was further informed by a detailed report and set of recommendations provided by an Urban Land Institute Chicago (ULI Chicago) Technical Assistance Panel.