Land Bank Act passes New York legislature; awaits Governor Cuomo’s signature

"NY - Albany: New York State Capitol" by Flickr user wallyg.
Late last week, in a victory for smart growth advocates across the state, the New York State legislature passed the Land Bank Act (A373A/S663A). Now awaiting signature into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the legislation would allow towns and cities in New York State to create land banks – entities that can hold and manage vacant and abandoned properties and return them to productive use.

New York’s Land Bank Act would provide major benefits to local economies by reversing cycles of decline and improving property values in communities across the state. Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, the bill’s lead sponsor in the Assembly, described the positive economic impacts land banks can provide in a recent press release about the bill:

“Just as one vacant building can set off a cycle of contagious blight, with declining property values leading to further abandonments, a smart redevelopment plan, implemented by a land bank that can acquire, hold and assemble parcels of land for development, green space, or public works projects can reverse this non-virtuous cycle. Their work adds value to surrounding properties and strengthens local real estate markets.”

If signed into law, the bill could benefit a number of New York communities plagued by abandoned and vacant properties, including Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester and Niagara Falls. According to a recent article in the Buffalo News, Buffalo had the highest property vacancy rate of any city in the state last year, with 15.7% of properties uninhabited. Niagara Falls was a close second with 13.8%, and its mayor Paul A. Dyster explained in the article why he supports the bill:

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Dyster. “Vacant housing and vacant lots are among the most pressing problems when it comes to our quality of life.”

Assemblyman Hoyt and Senator David Valesky, the bill’s lead Senate sponsor, worked closely with the Center for Community Progress to draft the bill. Smart Growth America and our partners CenterState CEO and Empire State Future look forward to continuing to support the bill as it goes to the Governor for signing.