Rockford to convert vacant and abandoned homes to ‘landbanks’

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Vacant and abandoned homes can cause a number of concerns for communities from creating fire hazards to draining tax dollars. That’s why some cities choose to revamp these properties as ‘landbanks.’ Now, the Forest City is giving it a try.

“We’re targeting properties that haven’t paid taxes in a while and have been abandoned,” explained Michael Dunn Jr, the executive director of Region 1 Planning Council.

Rockford’s Region 1 PLanning Council is selling its very first landbank property. It’s located on South 2nd Street, just a couple blocks from East State Street downtown.

“What the landbank does is save that home finds a new investor finds a new owner and works out those taxes so that a new owner doesn’t have that burden coming in,” Dunn Jr. explained.

Joseph Dailing has lived in Haight Village for over 40 years and says it’s something exciting for his community.

“I think the landbank is an excellent idea because periodically people will get properties and can’t maintain them and walk away from them,” said Dailing.

“I’ve never really seen anyone in there it’s been boarded up for at least 3 years,” said one resident Amanda Ackerman.

While six-year resident Amanda Ackerman says it’s a step in the right direction, she believes there’s more work to be done.

“If you want to keep it as abandoned, I don’t see it being anything other than an eyesore. But then again, there’s a lot of eyesores there’s that one there’s the church that’s vacant and another church that’s semi vacant so if you’re going to take care of one, take care of them all,” Ackerman explained.

People can start bidding for the house now. At this time, there’s no minimum bid. The owner will be selected based on their proposal for the property. Dunn Jr. says he is optimistic about the property’s future.

“It’s got tons of potential it can be saved from demolition and with a small investment with the state of Illinois we believe we can put it into private sector hands and have it pay property taxes again and when it does that it’s going to raise property value all around it,” Dunn Jr. said.

Bidding ends on August 7th. Dunn Jr. says this is a great start in acquiring even more properties in the future. He aims to get up to a dozen properties in the first year of the landbank.

“I’d like to see some of those vacant houses filled with people and continue to attract people who want to live here who want to make an investment and have the resources or the skills to fix up these houses,” Dailing added.

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