2014 Ohio Land Bank Conference

This year’s Ohio Land Bank Conference hosted by The Thriving Communities Institute saw an ever increasing number of participants.  The conference was a success, and is a testament to the increase in “land banking” throughout the State. The conference is a platform for Land Banks to learn from each other in order to better achieve their mission. The Cuyahoga Land Bank has become a prominent leader in Land Bank best practices and this conference it the opportunity to feature it’s work.  This year’s conference topics have evolved from the basic functions of a Land Bank Conference Land Bank (including demolition and renovation) to focusing on redevelopment and strategic programing to help reimagine our communities. The Cuyahoga Land Bank addressed the importance of fine tuning the essential functions of a Land Bank through presentations on “Land Banks 101” and “The Basics of Demolition,” presented by the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s Director of Acquisitions, Dispositions and Development, Cheryl Stephens.  The conference also focused on advanced practices ranging from vacant land reuse, and programing for reuse of green space and the importance of utilizing funding streams to achieve neighborhood-focused redevelopment.
The land reuse presentation offered the Cuyahoga Land Bank the chance to share its success stories and lessons.  The Cuyahoga Land Bank Manager of Special Projects and Land Reuse, Lilah Zautner and Mahoning County Land Bank Executive Director, Debora Flora painted a picture of how various creative green space reimagining projects have effectively capitalized on vacant space to create a positive impact. This presentation offered other Land Banks the knowledge to launch greening projects in their own communities.Land Bank Conference Sponsors
“Reimagining the urban space sometimes means trying something and seeing why it doesn’t work,” said Zautner.  “Through practice, we’ve learned that the most successful projects provide a reason for the community to remain invested and require minimal maintenance.”
Collaboration was an important theme at the conference.  Cuyahoga Land Bank President and General Counsel, Gus Frangos shared the stage with City of South Euclid Housing Manager, Sally Martin and Thriving Communities Senior Policy Advisor, Frank Ford to discuss the positive outcomes of The Vacant and Abandoned Property Action Council (VAPAC). The VAPAC group brings together government representatives, stakeholders and practitioners to help show participating agencies the bigger picture. The group shares insights and observations, and capitalizes on the collective knowledge at the table. By bringing everyone together, VAPAC has been able to identify overarching issues and trends, encourage a uniform approach to policy and obtain recognition as the respected voice on foreclosure and vacancy issues.
“Through VAPAC, we have been able to bring together people from a variety of perspectives in order to create effective policy because we are now speaking the same language,” Frangos said.
The Thriving Communities Institute has created a successful conference that has given Ohio Land Banks the opportunity to establish, build or improve their daily operations.  Thanks to all of the conference sponsors, the event was a success.  We hope to see everyone at the conference in 2015!

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