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Title:Banking on land: A critical review of land banking in the United States
Author(s):Mischiu, David E.
Advisor(s):Doussard, Marc J
Department / Program:Urban & Regional Planning
Discipline:Urban Planning
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):land banks
land banking
economic development
urban planning
policy mobilities
policy mobility
policy transfer
vacant land
real estate
shrinking cities
legacy cities
New York City
Genesee County
Abstract:Regional economic development narratives have shifted from focusing on a perennially growing – or at least stable – urban core to a more complex and uneven patchwork of localized growth and decline. Declining areas have incurred a myriad of symptoms wrought by losses in population and economic activity. One symptom has been the abandonment of real property; whether households abandoning over-leveraged and underwater mortgages, landlords getting out from beneath unprofitable commercial structures, or large industrial operations shuttering. In urban areas, large quantities of abandoned real property have introduced unique planning and development challenges in American cities, who now find themselves implicated in a role they never anticipated filling to great extent: that of landlord. As the phenomenon of a land-accumulating public sector has become more common, responsibility and deployment of policy for swelling real estate inventories has given cities pause as disposition and management strategies become crucial to localities seeking to remain places of continued residence and economic activity. Abandoned properties in particular have been perceived as emblematic of inner city decline and stagnation, as perpetuating disinvestment and neglect, and even as embodying flaws within society at large. On the other hand, abandoned real property is not a de facto death knell; it can also be a valuable resource for the public sector. The ultimate leverage and influence a municipality can hold over the use and improvement of real property is fee-simple ownership. In higher-rent areas (particularly those with annexation capability), this affords municipalities the ability to temper local development markets by influencing uses and use patterns that may be out of step with existing market trends. Yet where abandoned land exists within fixed municipal boundaries, areas of low development interest, and mass population loss, it is much more likely to pose a deleterious influence on a locality’s economic outlook and quality of life. Under these latter conditions, public sector strategies to address the detrimental qualities of vacancy on its surroundings and allay further decline are open to discourse. The intersection of urban decline and public surplus land management is a front line of municipal policy development. More often than not, land use and development policies exhibit market-serving paradigms that have grown to dictate urban governance and policy development over the past half-century. Many localities have adopted land banking as a mechanism for the management and disposition of publicly-owned real estate. Land banking policy has a long history within legal and planning academic circles, yet the headlong diffusion of land banking policies across states, counties, and local governments has been a more recent phenomenon. This thesis discusses the history of land banking in the United States, its rapid expansion as a policy over the past two decades, and the state of the art in a present-day setting. Land banking in its ideal form is then reconciled with land banking in actuality; a case study of “what they say they do” versus “what they do”. Through looking at a small number of selected case studies, lessons of policies adopted and intended outcomes achieved may serve to better inform stewardship of public real estate assets in those cities experimenting with land banking as a spatial fix. Land banking is also examined with regard to the policy’s rapid diffusion, in a discussion on the application of policy mobility studies to land banking and what land banks reflect in terms of policy mobilities and the ongoing appeal of entrepreneurial urban development policy fixes; fixes which benefit certain interests over others, and in some instances have perpetuated the same creative destruction that land banks were initially intended to allay. Ultimately, land banking as a policy has often embraced the same market-serving ideals that many of its proponents have postured against; yet in defining the field, defining the issues within it, and exploring possibilities for improvement, there may be new lessons to apply in practice.
Issue Date:2019-04-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 David Mischiu
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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