Decatur is now officially the latest city to join the Central Illinois Land Bank Authority.
The land bank board approved the Decatur expansion at its video conference meeting last week.
According to CILBA Executive Director Mike Davis, Decatur has offered CILBA 300-400 lots to help market (for lots sold the land bank would keep proceeds), which is similar to the land bank’s arrangement with Danville to help get surplus side lots/city property back on tax rolls; and CILBA can help assist with implementation of a $1.2 million Howard Buffett grant Decatur recently received.
Davis said the details need to be worked out on what role the land bank will play on that project, but “it’s a great opportunity to help build the track record of the land bank and ideally do more projects like this down the road in Vermilion and Champaign counties. I believe it speaks to the importance of partnerships with the philanthropic community and collaboration with member communities.”
CILBA executed a $100,000 Round 2 Land Bank Capacity Program grant in early April which called for an expansion to Decatur, so that will help fund any staff time spent there, added Davis.
Davis doesn’t intend on adding any new (county, city, village) members anytime soon after the Decatur approval. He says he has plenty of work to focus on with Vermilion and Champaign counties and Decatur.
The CILBA board last week also approved authorizing assumption of a $150,000 Illinois Housing Development Authority Land Bank Capacity Program grant to the land bank that Rantoul had received.
In other recent action, the land bank hired AWEBCO in Danville to create a website for the land bank. The website could be completed this month. Davis also hired Emma Walters as a full-time summer intern.
Other items of information at the board meeting included, reimbursement on Vermilion County Land Bank Authority’s Round 1 $300,000 Land Bank Capacity Program grant was submitted in late January and a $44,000 payment was received in April. Also, Iroquois Federal’s line of credit was finalized and used for the first time in April.
Davis also reported vacant parcels of land the CILBA owned where demolitions occurred were sold in Hoopeston and Georgetown.
A next short-term project will be a demolition at 1022 Chandler St. in Danville, near Lincoln Park.
Davis reports he’s waiting for historic preservation clearance from the State Historic Preservation Office and then a bid package for demo will be released.
The 1022 Chandler St. property was purchased in 2019 from a bank for $1. It was a bank real estate owned property. The goal ideally was to do a rehabilitation with Habitat for Humanity.
After consultation with city officials in the last few weeks, they agreed this was not a rehab candidate and should be demolished, according to Davis.
Davis says the land bank has about $3,000 left in Abandoned Property Program (APP) grant funds with IHDA that need to be used. Since most demolitions fall in the $10,000 to $15,000 range (depends on whether asbestos remediation is necessary), he’ll spend the remaining $3,000 APP grant that can be used for demolitions and then use funds from the Land Bank Capacity Program grant received in 2018 to fund the remainder of demolition cost.
Davis said some other focus areas this year will be: assist member communities in selling surplus land; provide technical assistance on local and/or regional planning/fundraising/implementation; identify potential catalytic projects where the land bank can work with a coalition of partners to move member communities forward.
He is working on creating baseline needs assessments in member communities which will be used to help prioritize work for implementation activities in the next one to two years, have a good data-driven approach to apply for future grants and ideally forge public private-partnerships in member communities to help grow this work.
Land banks are public or community-owned entities created to assist with community revitalization projects. They return unproductive properties to contributing, tax-paying status.