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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 (download PDF), 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 (download PDF). Chaired by Scott Goldstein of Teska Associates, Inc., the panel brought together a diverse set of real estate experts to provide objective industry expertise and pragmatic recommendations for the land bank.
This roundtable will consider the vision for a countywide land bank and how this innovative tool can be deployed to remove redevelopment barriers and jumpstart economic development. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, Principal at Teska Associates, Inc. Scott Goldstein, and Director of the Thriving Communities Institute Jim Rokakis will discuss how the LBAC and ULI Chicago were involved in the creation of the Cook County land bank legislation and how the newly approved Cook County Land Bank Authority compares to similar efforts outside of Illinois.