Much more than just “drug houses”; State grants to fund commercial building demolition would propel county land banks as key drivers of Ohio’s economic development
Jeffry D. Harris
Bricker & Eckler LLP
In late April 2021, a legislative committee in the Ohio House held its second hearing to consider creating a $100 million grant program, exclusively for county land banks, to fund commercial building demolition. Ohio’s land bank statutes are recognized as a national model, uniquely providing an opt-in for county commissioners to direct tax collections to fund their county land banks’ activities. That revenue model, coupled with allocations from the state’s Hardest Hit Fund (specifically, the sun-setting Neighborhood Initiative Program), allowed land banks to grow in number during the past decade and thrive in addressing so-called nonproductive land in their communities.
But federal and state funding partners to date have been laser-focused on acquiring and demolishing vacant and abandoned residential properties. What to do with the proverbial long-abandoned former factory on the [north, south, east, west] side of town, respectively, rotting away in virtually every Ohio community? County land banks have been at a loss as to what funding sources they could access to acquire and remediate nonproductive commercial properties. Simply put, properly funding commercial building acquisition and demolition has been the purple unicorn eluding Ohio’s land banking thought leaders.
Enter House Bill (HB) 155, introduced in February by two Cleveland-area state legislators. This legislation seeks to create a new General Revenue Fund-sourced initiative at the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA): the Land Reutilization Nuisance Abatement Program, with $50 million appropriated for each of State Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023. Written into Ohio’s community improvement corporation (CIC) laws – county land banks technically operate as CICs in Ohio – the program would provide grants to fund “the abatement of nuisance structures on blighted parcels,” with land banks to locally match, dollar-for-dollar, any awarded ODSA funds.
A key feature of HB 155 is in its reference to general provisions of Ohio law. Namely, “blighted parcel” is defined according to dilapidated and unsafe conditions, irrespective whether the property is used for residential or commercial purposes (see Ohio Revised Code Section 1.08(B)).
The House Committee’s reception to HB 155 in late April was notable for its active dialogue among members of both parties as to how county land banks advance development in their communities. If enacted, HB 155 would be the very sharp and long sought-after arrow in the quiver of those communities in Ohio with an active county land bank to actively address shuttered and forlorn factories and commercial complexes.
The Public Finance team of attorneys at Bricker & Eckler LLP is available to help county land bank officials track and understand this proposed funding opportunity. We welcome local elected and county land bank officials to reach out to obtain more information.
This is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice and does not create or imply an attorney-client relationship.
Ohio’s Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) program is the major state program that enables collaboration among municipalities and townships to encourage investment and job creation. Over the past few years, the JEDD program has undergone a number of significant changes that impact on its practical use.read more
I first met Dan in the fall of 2016. I had moved to Central Ohio over the late holiday season in 2015 to begin serving as the new Director of GROW Licking County CIC, Dan’s former role. I was immediately struck by many in the community who worried that I would “not be enough,” that the “shoes were too big,” and that “Dan was larger than life.” And they were right.read more
The Ohio Economic Development Association’s annual Excellence Awards program recognizes the achievements of individuals and organizations in Ohio in the areas of economic and workforce development. Submit your nominations today and have excellence in your community recognized statewide!
A panel of judges will evaluate the nominations, determine finalists, and select a winner for each of the categories noted below. Award winners will be announced in conjunction with the 2022 OEDA Annual Summit, being held October 3-6 at the Exchange at Bridge Park in Dublin, Ohio.read more