Portage County Land Bank brought 52 properties onto the tax rolls in 2023

Portage County Land Reutilization Corporation, known as the Land Bank, returned 52 properties to the tax rolls in 2023 and demolished 230 vacant and blighted properties, according to the quasi-governmental organization’s latest annual report.

The stated mission of the Portage County Land Reutilization Corporation, or Land Bank, is “to facilitate the conversion of vacant, blighted, abandoned and tax delinquent properties back to productive use for the benefit of the community.”

The report details the Land Bank’s success in returning 52 properties to the tax rolls in 2023 as well as 230 demolitions of vacant and blighted properties that were not able to be rehabilitated. Every property that is refurbished is another homeownership opportunity for a buyer and helps to increase surrounding property values.

“The Land Bank continues to provide an excellent return on investment for Portage County residents,” Land Bank Chair Sabrina Christian-Bennett. “The past year saw us continue our efforts of putting properties back to productive use through residential rehabilitation projects, demolition of blighted buildings, and new involvement with commercial and industrial properties by way of a funding opportunity that was made available through the State of Ohio to address vacant or underutilized brownfield sites.”

A “brownfield” is an abandoned, idled or underutilized industrial, commercial or institutional property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by known or potential releases of hazardous substances or petroleum.

The report also highlighted 111 open market sales totaling $1,952,233; 98 side lots transferred; and 13 residential rehabilitations.

Meanwhile, the Land Bank’s New Construction Revolving Loan Fund issued three loans in 2023 totaling $450,000. The RLF leverages the Land Bank’s inventory of vacant land and currently available funding to promote investment and redevelopment of underutilized property throughout the county.

“Collaboration with the private sector and non-profit partners continued during the year that resulted in new investment and redevelopment of property, value being added back on to the tax rolls, and the creation of homeownership opportunities throughout the county,” Christian-Bennett said.

With an eye on future projects, the Land Bank recently applied for nearly $3 million in program grant funding from the Ohio Department of Development. Those programs include:

  • Welcome Home Ohio Program: $780,000 application to expand affordable homeownership opportunities.
  • Brownfield Remediation Program: $1 million application to address environmentally impacted commercial and industrial sites in an effort to keep them financially viable and better positioned for future redevelopment.
  • Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program: $1.2 million application to address the negative impacts of vacant and abandoned properties and clear the way for future economic growth.

“Looking ahead, we’re committed to expanding our impact,” said Dan Morganti, executive director of the Portage County Land Bank. “We are excited to hear more soon about our requests and even more ready to get to work with these new investments.”

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Tom Hardesty is a Portager sports columnist. He was formerly assistant sports editor at the Record-Courier and author of the book Glimpses of Heaven.