3rd Quarter Economic Data Mostly Positive, But Spike in Local Unemployment is a Concern
12/7/2016 6:00:18 PM
I released my report on the health of the economy for the 3rd quarter of 2016, and while the news was mostly positive, a sharp spike in local unemployment is worth keeping an eye on. Click here to read a summary of the report and here to read the complete report.
Historic Pythian Castle to be Redeveloped
12/6/2016 3:31:22 PM
Though the Land Bank's tools are most commonly used to address the problems of blight in residential neighborhoods, there are times when we can also play an important role in economic development. Today's exciting news is proof.
As this story in The Blade explains, the Land Bank has sold the Pythian Castle to Water Street Development LLC with the expectation that the 126-year-old historic structure will be rehabilitated and converted into commercial, retail & residential space. This will be a huge win for the community, since one of the area's most historic structures will not only be preserved, but it will also serve as an economic anchor in a part of Toledo's downtown that is trying to reinvent itself.
Water Street Development has a unique talent for revitalizing historic structures in downtown Toledo, and the Pythian Castle would be another feather in its cap. Although vacant for over 40 years, the structure is an architectural marvel and one of the most significant structures in the core of our community. The Blade has editorialized that the deal is "worth a try."
I am excited that the Land Bank could play a role in this economic development project!
Land Bank Receives Additional $1.9m to Fight Blight
10/24/2016 5:47:01 PM
More great news in the fight against blight in Toledo! As this story in The Blade explains, the Lucas County Land Bank received an additional $1.9 million from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency to address the problems associated with vacant & abandoned homes. The funding, which comes from the Hardest Hit Fund established by the U.S. Congress in 2010, will allow us to keep or exceed our pledge to demolish or rehab one vacant & abandoned property per day -- every day -- for the next 4 years.
Ninety days have passed since the Land Bank made its "1,500 in 1,500" promise -- a commitment to demolish or renovate 1,500 properties over the next 1,500 days. So far, we are ahead of schedule: in the last 90 days, the Land Bank has demolished 96 properties and helped renovate 18 more, bringing the total number of vacant & abandoned properties to 114. The $15.7 million the Land Bank has now received from the Hardest Hit Fund will allow us to stay on schedule to finish our work by the "promise date" of August 31, 2020.
WTOL also did a story on the additional $1.9 million grant, and it can be viewed by clicking here.
Lucas County Attends RVP Conference in Baltimore
10/20/2016 3:10:56 PM
The Land Bank staff had a great time in Baltimore at the Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference hosted by the Center for Community Progress. We shared some of our experiences, learned new ideas, and networked with other activists who are trying to make a difference in their communities. Having attended the very first RVP conference in Pittsburgh in 2007, it was great to see how much the movement has grown!
Land Bank Hosts Mini "Parade of Homes"
9/15/2016 10:31:35 AM
The Lucas County Land Bank held an Open House for four of its properties last weekend in an effort to promote rehabilitation of vacant and abandoned homes in our community. Four properties were open from 11 am - 1 pm on Saturday, with at least one of the properties having a line of potential buyers waiting outside the home before the showing even began. Land Bank staff and local realtors were present at each location in order to answer questions.
The Land Bank has helped rehab over 400 properties, and these projects have pumped $10 million of private investment into our neighborhoods. The Blade story on this mini "Parade of Homes" can be found by clicking here, and the story that ran on WTVG-13ABC can be found by clicking here.
Land Bank Sets Goal of "1,500 in 1,500"
7/25/2016 4:09:02 PM
It’s a goal for the record books, but the Lucas County Land Bank is ready to set its sights high. At a news conference today, we announced a plan to renovate or demolish 1,500 properties over the next 1,500 days. In other words, every day for the next four years, a property will be fixed up or torn down by the Land Bank. Every single day. This will allow us to remove most of the blighted properties throughout Toledo by the year 2020.
The news conference was held in front of two houses owned by the Land Bank on the 3900 block of Hoiles Avenue in West Toledo: one that must be demolished due to mold damage, and the other that has been renovated by a Land Bank partner and will soon be re-occupied.
More than 400 properties have been renovated through the Land Bank since 2011. That’s important because demolition and renovation are not an either/or. Our neighborhoods need both to be successful.
The announcement follows the recent Hardest Hit Funds award of $13.8 million to the Land Bank, which was a higher award per capita than any other county in Ohio. Lucas County received such a high award in part because it has the lowest demolition costs statewide, paying nearly 25% less than any other county and stretching limited dollars even further for Toledo’s neighborhoods.
The Blade wrote a front-page story about the "1,500 in 1,500" initiative, which you can read by clicking here. The Blade's lead editorial was also dedicated to the program, and you can read that by clicking here.
Toledo Shouldn't Use State Cuts as Excuse for Failure
7/25/2016 12:49:46 PM
The Toledo Blade invited me to write an OpEd about what the City of Toledo should do to make up for the cuts in state funding. Click here if you would like to ready my "Saturday Essay."