Newburgh Land Bank
The Newburgh City Council has unanimously authorized the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School to create a Land Bank incorporated under the Private Housing Finance Law. As such, it is legally authorized to take title to city-owned parcels for a negotiated price as low as $1.00 and is not required to pay property and sales taxes until the properties are restored and sold to new owners. The Land Bank will be chartered to hold, maintain, rehabilitate, and dispose of residential buildings on these parcels in order to revitalize Newburgh's neighborhoods and return city-owned property to the tax rolls.
The Newburgh Land Bank will concentrate its initial operations on a target area generally bounded to the North by Gidney Avenue and Clinton Street, to the East by Grand Street, to the South by Broadway, and to the West by Dubois Street. The City has committed to concentrate its police and code enforcement efforts in this target area to ensure the success of the Land Bank's operations. The current plan is for the City to convey title to approximately 50 properties, mostly vacant buildings, and for the land bank to demolish any that are beyond repair, to board up and maintain safely those that are not ready for rehabilitation, and to begin substantial rehabilitation on those that can be redeveloped most cost-effectively. Although legally required to emphasize residential properties, the Land Bank can do a limited amount of commercial development in the buildings it owns.
The Land Bank seeks to develop productive relationships with the anchor institutions in this target area and the private sector, to work with them to create housing for their employees and managers, to secure their support in seeing other funding including state and federal grants and loans, and to otherwise take advantage of private sector and institutional expertise to ensure the success of its efforts to permanently revitalize the target area.
The Board of Directors consists of nine members including a City Council Member, the City Manager, Chair of the Property Remediation Task Force, a Planning Board member; and five non-City members consisting of representatives from anchor institutions, local not-for-profit corporations, and community members. In addition to the Directors, a Cabinet will be created to advise the Land Bank. Individuals with significant development, finance, historical, real estate, among other relevant fields of expertise, will be recruited to serve on the Cabinet.
This effort holds much promise. It will be the first Land Bank of its kind in the state and is being watched carefully by state agencies as a model. With the strong support of the City Council, the major non-profit educational and medical institutions in the City, area organizations and foundations, and the private sector, there is reason to believe that significant outside support can be attracted to facilitate this carefully coordinated effort to restore Newburgh's historic district and to change the community's image.