Mahoning County Land Bank celebrates 10 years of rehabilitating abandoned properties

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Mahoning County Land Bank turns 10 this year. It’s where the rehabilitation of abandoned properties often begins.

The success of the land bank ban be seen in a recent study done by Youngstown State’s college of business, which shows that for every dollar the land bank spends, it returns anywhere from $1.43 to $1.50 in benefits.

Mahoning County Land Bank Executive Director Debora Flora showed First News an example of what a land bank property might look like Wednesday afternoon.

“So, this is the footprint of the building of where the building was,” Flora said.

It’s the corner of Mahoning and South Portland avenues on Youngstown’s lower west side, where a commercial building once stood. The hope is to eventually have another business occupy the corner, but until then, it can still be used.

“We can see it being useful as a flexible space. There could be a mini farmer’s market here, there could be a small flea market here,” Flora said.

In 10 years, the land bank has acquired 5,000 properties — 70-80% of them in Youngstown, 2,500 or half of which have been transferred to someone else.

“Everything from the person who wanted to enlarge their yard to a business that was looking for expansion or maybe even a construction site,” Flora said.

Also over those 10 years, the land bank as spent $21 million, and the YSU study estimates the amount returned to be $33 million.

“It was the equivalent of 61 full time jobs when you consider the various work that we did — demolition, renovations, screening projects. It’s meant a lot in the way of generating tax revenue in restoring some value to properties,” Flora said.

“They’re a strong partner of ours, a critical partner,” said Ian Beniston, who runs the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, which often revitalizes properties from the land bank.

“We can’t really do what we do, what we’ve done here, without their partnership and their ability to do what they do,” Beniston said.

As far as the future of the land bank:

“My goal is to put the land bank out of business,” Beniston said.

The land bank, however, is nowhere close to going out of business. There are still abandoned properties that must be dealt with.

Flora says over the next 10 years, they’ll be focusing more on commercial properties — either by building up or tearing down.

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