ALBANY — The Albany County Land Bank announced Thursday that it has surpassed 500 property sales since its formation in 2014 and become the second-largest of the state’s 25 land banks.
Through the end of 2019, it had acquired 355 vacant buildings and 745 vacant parcels that were abandoned or had been seized in tax foreclosures. Also, it stabilized 74 buildings and demolished 75, and improved 118 vacant lots.
These properties have been in every municipality in the county, and have ranged from single- and multi-family residential buildings to small urban lots to rural properties exceeding 60 acres.
The land bank currently lists scores of vacant parcels at prices ranging up to $74,000, with the great majority available for less than $3,000. It also lists a few dozen residential structures at prices ranging from $4,000 to $135,000.
Albany County established its land bank in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, which led to a surge in the number of abandoned and foreclosed properties. It is funded in part by the state Attorney General’s Land Bank Community Revitalization Initiative, which relies on money secured in settlements by large banks for misconduct that worsened the housing crisis.
Albany County Land Bank property sales are designed to discourage speculation and absentee landlordism, and the majority have been made to people who live in the same community where the property is located.
The Capital Region Land Bank, which serves Schenectady County and the cities of Schenectady and Amsterdam, takes a different route to the same goal. It lacks the steady stream of foreclosed properties to sell, as the cities and county sell own foreclosures. So it focuses on revitalizing neighborhoods by eliminating blight, either through renovation (over 20 structures since 2014) or demolition (over 200 since 2014).
The Capital Region Land Bank sold 57 properties from 2014 through 2019. In the same time period, Schenectady County sold 191 foreclosed properties. From 2016 to 2019, the city of Schenectady sold 411 foreclosed properties.