We read with empathy of the Commercial-News’ concerns about vacant lots in Danville. Across our central Illinois region, many communities are facing the aftermath of population loss, changing demographics, and changing industries. They, too, are dealing with vacant lots and land, as well as how to remove obsolete structures and deal with the vacant lots that result.

As the region’s land bank, CILBA was created to help address this problem. The land bank started as a partnership between Vermilion County and Danville in 2015 and today serves communities across three counties. We focus on putting distressed property to productive reuses. We’ve had some successes.

We helped facilitate dozens of site acquisitions for the ongoing Carle Campus redevelopment. In Hoopeston, we protected the historic Wildon building from demolition and assisted with the building sale. We’ve helped our local municipal members demolish dilapidated property and think creatively about how to leverage their powers and resources to reactivate that land. Recently, we helped secure $400,000 in new funding that we’ll put to use to help improve member communities in Vermilion County.

Across the country, an estimated three-fourths of vacant property inventories are vacant lots and the number tends to go up year over year. Reactivating land — through new development, side lot sales, greening activities, or other uses — helps reduce the inventory, but these activities cost money and require intentional planning and coordination that is often lacking. According to a national survey by the Center for Community Progress, about 80% of vacant inventories lack a reuse plan.

That is why groups like ours exist — we fill in gaps, connect ideas and resources, and align overlapping goals to maximize the chances of success.

It takes a village to reactivate vacant lots and all hands pulling in the same direction. There is no one solution, but lots of solutions and numerous stakeholders working together. Opportunity awaits those who want to roll up their sleeves and bring forward ideas, energy and funds where we can find them.

We’re ready to partner. Get in touch, interested reader.

To learn more, visit our website at www.cilba.org

Mike Davis, Executive Director, Central IL Land Bank Authority

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