Following in the steps of other cities in the eastern United States, Newark has launched a land bank aimed at reducing blight and activating vacant and abandoned properties, writes Jared Brey in Next City. Managed by Invest Newark, the land bank is now accepting bids and proposals for “around 100 vacant lots and buildings” formerly under city ownership.
Generally managed by a non-profit or government agency, a land bank is designed to expedite the sale and redevelopment of vacant and blighted properties. Invest Newark “hopes the land bank will extend the revitalization of Newark’s downtown out into its neighborhoods, promote business ownership, create opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses and contractors, establish new parks and green spaces, and expand affordable housing, and help first-time homebuyers acquire houses.” To avoid prior mistakes and encourage tangible development, the land bank is requiring “basic personal or business information, a feasible development plan for the property of interest where rehabilitation is required, and proof of financing for the purchase or proposed development.”
Annette Muhammad, senior vice president of land bank operations for Invest Newark, is hopeful that the land bank will be more transparent and efficient than the city’s current land-sale process, and that their vetting process will ensure properties don’t just go to the highest bidder. “It’s not about the highest offer. It’s about the best offer.”