A city lot for $100

albany county land bank vacant lot sale

One of the lots up for sale is on Fourth Ave in the South End. / photo via Albany County Land Bank

The Albany County Land Bank is selling off a handful of vacant lots around the city of Albany for $100 each (plus a few other costs) in a program it's calling... "Spend a little, get a lot!"*

The application process starts today, June 1, and runs through June 30. Press release blurbage:

The Land Bank has identified 40 tax-foreclosed, vacant lots to participate in the program. Most of the lots are located in the Land Bank's Focus Areas: the Arbor Hill, Sheridan Hollow, South End, West End and West Hill neighborhoods in the City of Albany. To be eligible, buyers must be property owners located on the same block as the participating lot and must be current on all taxes, water/sewer bills, and have no outstanding code violations or unresolved foreclosures. Preference will be given to applications based on factors including proximity to the lot and ownership status. Buyers will have 30 days from the date of purchase to ensure the property meets all City of Albany codes and will be required to retain ownership of the property for a period of five years.

The land bank link above has a map of the vacant lots, along with a detailed info page explaining eligibility and some of the additional costs involved. (Though the purchase price is just $100, total costs will be at least $700.)

Vacant lots are kind of like missing teeth in a streetscape, especially in dense neighborhoods. Bringing some sort of activity to them -- a garden, a neighborhood gathering space, just some regularly-mown grass -- can be a big help to a street.

Land bank?
Land banks are a relatively new concept. The idea is that they serve as a bridge between when a vacant property is seized in tax foreclosure and when it's bought by a new owner for renovation and/or redevelopment. Land banks acquire the properties, stabilize them, and then market them for sale with the aim of finding buyers who will redevelop them responsibly. The orgs can also "bank" properties (thus the name) to group them or otherwise set them up for better chances of successful development.

The Capital Region has three land banks: Albany County Land Bank, Troy Community Land Bank, and Capital Region Land Bank (Schenectady and Amsterdam).

* (rimshot) They'll be here all week.

Comments

Please do not leave out Community Land Trust of Schenectady. They have been around for a long time and have done a lot!

Too bad to be eligible buyers must be property owners located on the same block as the participating lot. We definitely would have been interested.

It's a REAL disgrace that the Vast Majority of People who live in those areas are NOT qualified to participate, but I bet THEIR landlords ARE

So much for free market...

I also wish there was a bit more flexibility in who was eligible to purchase these lots. People in the neighborhood could go in together to develop a community garden if the land and sunlight was suitable for urban farming. The Capital Roots gardens are great, but they usually have a waiting list.

I personally feel it's totally unfair to those who aren't home owners in and out of the block of 4th Ave. .Whomever the person maybe would like to be a part of having their home being built on a piece of land. If the person has the funds or is accepted from their bank to borrow money just to have their home built on a piece of property ,then I honestly feel the City of Albany who in charge of vacant abandon lots should make serious changes to allow for anyone to be able to apply for Ownership Of Property of the location of their choice.
Thank You for hearing me out!
Carmen
Albany, N.Y.12202

To those who are upset that renters can't buy one of these properties - What good does a vacant lot do for someone who doesn't own any other property and is renting? In my opinion, that just sounds like you're advocating for someone to add a tax burden to their shoulders that they can't do anything with.

John - The free market didn't work for these properties, which is why they fell to the Land Bank in the first place, and also why they are vacant without any buildings or improvements that would have value.

This is new so give it a chance. Hopefully the rules will be broadened to include any resident (including renters) in the neighborhood. Perfect spots for community gardens (raised beds), pocket parks or playgrounds. Or a small house.

My app was rejected today. I own property a few spaces away from two lots in the Mansions, but not close enough under this program to even be a "D" priority. The lots are on blocks full of land bank properties and other dilapidated buildings so if the land bank doesn't loosen the rules and allow anyone but directly-neighboring owners to participate, the program is going to be unsuccessful and the blight will continue.

I could plant some really nice gooseberries on one of those lots!

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