Jacksonville To Enter Two Rivers Land Bank Program

By Benjamin Cox on June 15, 2021 at 10:22am

The City of Jacksonville is hoping to cut down on the number of blighted and vacant properties in the city limits by entering into a special agreement with another community.

The city council approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Two Rivers Land Bank from Adams County. A land bank would provide the means to strategically acquire blighted properties and return them back to a productive use and re-enter them on the property tax rolls.

Jacksonville has seen a sizable number of blighted properties cycled through the annual county tax sale, leaving some properties to deteriorate beyond repair or where repair would not be economically feasible to a buyer.

Jacksonville Community Development Director Brian Nyberg says he’s not an expert on land banks but he thinks that it could be a potential economic development tool for the city: “This would be just another tool in our toolbox as far as taking care of some of the vacant and abandoned properties in town. That’s kind of been one of my main priorities. Whether that will be a useful tool, I guess the only way to know will be to try it. From what I’ve heard from other cities and municipalities that have gone underneath a land bank, it does work so I would like to at least try.”

The city will have to pay a $10,000 fee to be involved in the land bank for the first two years. Nyberg says that if the city isn’t satisfied with the land bank, they can exit the agreement at any time. The land bank could also help community development in other ways by scoring points for grants through the Illinois Housing Development Authority Strong Communities and Abandoned Properties programs.

Nyberg says that a hyper-local approach on how the land bank will possess and dispense properties for sales and projects will all be decided at the city government level. Ultimately, Nyberg believes that the land bank will help city property tax revenues go up by returning the various unwanted and blighted properties around Jacksonville to taxable use.