City of Spokane looks to Michigan and Genesee County for land bank model
In Washington state, two City of Spokane task forces formalizing recommendations this month — the Infill Development Steering Committee and the Mayor’s Housing Quality Task Force — are looking at land banks in Michigan, specifically the Genesee County Land Bank, to identify best practices in setting up a land bank in Spokane to help build new houses and resurrect old ones.
“A land bank is one of the tools that we’re really considering right now to promote mixed-income development, to promote our core neighborhoods,” says Jonathan Mallahan, director of Neighborhood and Business Services for the city of Spokane. Granted, the idea is still in the theoretical stages, but Mallahan sees the land bank proposal as a possible way not to replace the role of the private sector, but to augment it.
The City of Spokane spoke with officials from the Genesee County Land Bank who say that Flint and Detroit are moving faster than any other communities in the country to demolish blighted properties. They say it’s crucial that communities considering emulating Genesee County — like Spokane — give their land bank the right tools to pull off a broad mission.