THURSDAY, JULY 7, 2005
City picked for national pilot program
The National Vacant Properties Campaign in Washington, D.C., has chosen Indianapolis and six other cities to participate in a national pilot program dedicated to turning around vacant and abandoned properties.
More than 50 urban areas were considered for the program.
The Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development's bid requested help in improving its tax-foreclosure system and creating land-bank authorities in the state.
Cities selected for the program receive visits from national authorities with expertise in the problems the areas are experiencing. The visitors spend time in the city, assess the merits of the bid and report back to the campaign.
In Indianapolis' case, Frank Alexander, a professor at Emory University School of Law and an expert in land-bank authorities, and Lisa Mueller Levy, the campaign's director, visited the city about a week ago.
"Indianapolis is already paying more aggressive and intelligent attention to the problem of abandoned properties than most jurisdictions I've seen," Alexander said.
Many cities leave vacant buildings with little protection from vandalism and fire, Alexander said, but Indianapolis keeps abandoned buildings boarded up better than most other urban areas.
There are a number of ways the city can find new buyers for those buildings, Alexander said.
Creating land-bank authorities is one, he said.
Used as a means to eliminate barriers to reclaiming vacant properties, land-bank authorities can have the power to waive unpaid taxes on properties if they are acquired by not-for-profit organizations, for example.
Being selected as a part of the pilot program entitled the city to receive $15,000 in technical assistance, which paid for Alexander and Levy's visit to the city, the subsequent work the team will perform in creating the report, and a possible follow-up visit.
Other cities selected were Bridgeport, Conn.; Richmond, Va.; Spartanburg, S.C.; Tucson, Ariz.; Buffalo and Baltimore.
Copyright © IBJ Corp. 2005.