A New Approach

The Ohio General Assembly passed new legislation, effective in April 2009, allowing the formation of the first county land reutilization corporations (LRCs) also known as land banks. This legislation provides for the establishment of nonprofit corporations to promote, develop, manage, and facilitate the reclamation, holding, rehabilitation, and reutilization of vacant, abandoned, tax-foreclosed, and other real property. Jefferson County’s LRC (JCLRC) became eligible for incorporation in a second round of Ohio legislation and was formally established in 2014.

Sources of JCLRC Property

The JCLRC can acquire Jefferson County properties that are already owned by the State of Ohio through tax foreclosure. The JCLRC can work to have other liens released on tax foreclosed properties thus allowing them also to be acquired. The JCLRC can also accept donated properties. All properties are thoroughly reviewed before presentation to the Land Bank Board. The Board reserves the right to accept or reject any property transaction – acquisition, sale, donation — that is aligned or not aligned with the Land Bank’s policy guidelines and strategic objectives.

The JCLRC cannot acquire or accept every abandoned or dilapidated property out there but those that meet legal, policy, budgetary and other guidelines such as:

  • Must be tax foreclosed or delinquent for over two years;
  • Must be a residential property to be accepted as a demolition candidate under current NIP funding;
  • Must be in an approved geographic target area if demolition of structures is required;
  • Must be in an acceptable budget range if acquisition and/or demolition costs will be incurred;
  • Must meet a JCLRC objective for neighborhood stabilization or redevelopment in a specific targeted geographic area;
  • May have an interested end user or property donator who will help defray property acquisition and transfer costs, and commit to returning the property to productive use.

Like any organization, resources are finite. We cannot do it all. As responsible stewards of public funds, we constantly strive to achieve the most good for our Jefferson County communities.

Action on Property Acquired

Currently, most JCLRC property acquisitions are focused on properties requiring demolition. Once “wiped clean” of liens and physically cleared of structures, the JCLRC looks for interested neighbors and other parties to acquire the properties. For example, unbuildable land may be sold to an adjoining neighbor at a special low price for use as a side lot.

The JCLRC also has opportunities to acquire abandoned properties that can be rehabilitated. Interested rehabbers are welcomed to bid on the properties, present their plans to rehabilitate the property and bring it up to code, and commit to a schedule for those repairs.

The JCLRC can facilitate the acquisition, holding, and eventual transfer of properties for redevelopment projects or for other public use. For example, the JCLRC transferred a lot to a nonprofit organization running a Halloween haunted house for badly needed parking.

Towards New Horizons

Local “eyes” and “ears” are the best sources to what is happening in local communities. The JCLRC is often made aware of long abandoned (and often forgotten) properties requiring action. The JCLRC also counts on local authorities to support planned demolitions or communicate property interest in their communities. For example, a mixed residential/commercial building demolition was partially funded by a village and a civic revitalization group.