Syracuse Land Bank reaches milestone, sells 400th home in the city

The Syracuse Land Bank has just sold its 400th home in the city.

The Land Bank, formed about four years ago, aims to turn around abandoned and blighted properties in Syracuse.

The 400th house sold is on Oakley Drive in the Valley neighborhood of Syracuse.

"It's a young man, this is going to be his first home and he put in an offer through our Homeownership Choice program and his dad owns a construction business, so he'll have lots of help with the renovations that are needed. He's promised to live there for five years,” said Katelyn Wright, executive director of Syracuse Land Bank.

“We’ve seen $14 million brought back to the tax roles in the City of Syracuse because the land bank has taken properties that were dilapidated, falling apart, people weren't paying taxes on it, selling it to people that have redeveloped into single family homes,” said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.

In some cases— nearly 200— the Land Bank has acquired properties where demolition was the only option, but the goal is to redevelop them and enhance the neighborhood.

"Of those 400 properties that we've sold, we're able to screen the buyers, get them into the hands of good, local responsible people and they use their own money to renovate them so we can stretch our dollars a lot further,” Wright said.

Before the Land Bank, people could buy tax-delinquent properties directly from the city after approval from the Common Council. That’s been stopped out of respect to the Land Bank, which is selling properties faster.

So far, the Syracuse Land Bank has acquired about 1,200 properties in three years, a little less than they'd hoped, but Wright says but the rate of selling (about one-third of them) is exceeding expectations.

The Syracuse Land Bank is the most active one in New York State since the law was created back in 2011.

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