Land banks first emerged in the 1960s as an urban planning tool. Over the past two decades, land banking has become an increasingly important tool for cities challenged by vacant and abandoned properties. Many urban industrial centers throughout the nation were built for populations that simply were either never achieved or that were abandoned due to sprawl.
What We're All About
Meet the Ohio Land Bank Association
Ohio’s County Land Banks
In Ohio, a new form of land banks was established in 2008 when state legislators passed a bill allowing Cuyahoga County Commissioners to create the first modern land bank. Jim Rokakis – then the Cuyahoga County treasurer and now director of Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities – was the driving force behind passage of this legislation. This transformational new tool allowed for the establishment of county land reutilization corporations, commonly known as county land banks.
The Ohio land banking legislation has become a model for other states, such as New York and Georgia.
County land banks are nonprofit organizations whose mission is to strategically acquire properties, and return them to productive use, reducing blight, increasing property values, supporting community goals, and improving the quality of life for county residents.
While each county land bank is somewhat different, customized to the unique needs of the community it serves, land banks typically have three main functions.
- Acquire and consolidate (or aggregate) vacant parcels through purchases, donations, or intergovernmental transfer from public foreclosure holdings.
- Clear title to land and prepare parcels for transfer to a third party for redevelopment or reuse.
- Prioritize land for disposition or reuse, selling land for redevelopment to a third party.
The success of Ohio’s first land bank in Cuyahoga County led to subsequent legislation expanding eligibility first to all counties with populations over 60,000 and later to all counties in the state
How we got started
The Ohio Land Bank Association (OLBA), a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization, with the purpose of supporting the work of and advocating on behalf of all county land reutilization corporations, commonly known as land banks, across Ohio. With 56 of Ohio’s 88 counties having land banks, a clear need has emerged for a statewide association to provide a collective, unified voice.
While the OLBA is still in its infancy, being established in mid-2018 and the first board members being appointed in October 2018, we have seen a number of successes that continue to support the need and benefit of the OLBA.
In early 2019, the OLBA and Thriving Communities entered into a contractual agreement for the day-to-day management of the OLBA, establishing a highly qualified and knowledgeable staff to assist in providing services to the OLBA members.
The OLBA has filed two amicus briefs supporting the land bank community through the Ohio Supreme Court.
- One case has now been dismissed by the Ohio Supreme Court upholding the law that land banks are not public agencies for the purposes of bidding practices.
- The second case that the OLBA is supporting through providing an amicus briefs is still in the Supreme Court, and is questions the legality of Board of Revision foreclosures.
Managing Entity Information
The OLBA Board of Directors have been active and invested in building the OLBA and its membership so we are able to have one voice to lobby on behalf of Ohio’s land banks. We will continue with the same enthusiasm, to build on the success of our first 6 months and continue to build on the growth of the land bank community statewide.
We still have a lot of work to do and ask all members and potential members provide us with input on services and support that would benefit your communities and land banks. We appreciate your assistance and continued support of the Ohio land bank community. The OLBA Board of Directors, or Thriving Communities are always available to answer any questions or talk further about the goals, mission and work that the OLBA is performing for land banks!