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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Opportunities of Necessity: Cleveland's Industrial Land Bank

In our attempt to repopulate Cleveland and reinvent our region's economy, there is a glaring theme that permeates throughout all strategies: we must reuse existing properties and structures in order to make this happen. The issues of abandonment and vacancy are visible in every corner of our city and have begun to expand further into our inner-ring suburbs. This relates to residential, commercial and industrial property and represents a blight and a deterrent on our region's future growth. However, it must also be looked at as an opportunity.

Much research has been done on the subject, including Neighborhood Progress, Inc's June 2005 report Cleveland at the Crossroads: Turning Abandonment into Opportunity, which focuses primarily on residential issues and strategies. In their report, estimates range from 10,000 to 25,000 abandoned properties (of all types) in the City of Cleveland alone. One attempt to capture this opportunity on the residential side is the city's land bank, established in 1976, which has been lauded nationwide as a model for intervention by the city and its community development corporations (CDCs). Many of the new housing starts in Cleveland's neighborhoods have utilized the land bank's resources to make their projects feasible.

In addition, the city recently announced the release of its final report, Strategy for the Implementation of an Industrial Land Bank with Kevin O'Brien, Executive Director of Cleveland State University’s Great Lakes Environmental Finance Center, which details options for how the city’s Industrial Land Bank will operate.

“We created the city’s first Industrial Land Bank to acquire and develop properties like the Midland Steel site, a location where we could build off of significant investments being made in the surrounding community and create jobs in the city of Cleveland” said Mayor Campbell. “The release of our final report on the Industrial Land Bank process provides the best strategy for the city to develop the Midland Steel site and other industrial sites citywide.”

"In the last nine months, 28 companies requested a total of 100-125 acres of land on which to locate and add more than 1,300 jobs to the city. Mayor Campbell directed her Economic Development Department to make more than 100 acres of land available in the city, leading eventually to her creating the county’s first Industrial Land Bank by legislation in July 2005."

Read the full release on the City's site: http://www.city.cleveland.oh.us/mayor/press/2005/200510/10_18_2005.htm

Efforts such as these are of critical importance and must be continued and strengthened over the years to come as Cleveland continues to redevelop and grow.


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