New website to support Philly's land bank bill ups the effort to reclaim vacant land

Every day, Philadelphia’s 40,000 vacant lots drain the City’s resources and tax revenue while fostering crime and blight. Back in February, our cover story looked at the effort to establish a publicly managed land bank that would potentially mitigate these problems. The land bank – an effort of community organizations and City Council – would gather the city’s disparately held vacant lots into a single entity, bringing efficiency and transparency to the process for developing this land and putting it to better community use.

As the land bank bill comes under consideration in City Council, the Philadelphia Association of Community Development, Next Great City and Penn Future have created a new website, PhillyLandBank.org. The site is designed to help Philadelphians track the legislative progress of the proposed land bank and serve as a loudspeaker for community members to declare their support and take action in favor of the legislation. There are also fact sheets, studies and examples of successful land banks and vacant lot redevelopment efforts throughout the country.

Take a look for yourself at phillylandbank.org. And show your support for the bill by sending an email to City Council and the Nutter administration asking them to pass this legislation.

ALEX JACOBS is the Grid intern for spring 2013. He is a junior history major at Haverford College.

Eastwick UPDATE: Councilman pulls support from rezoning bill, Korman project won't move forward

Councilman Kenaytta Johnson talks at last night's meeting | photo by Ned Connelly © Copyright 2012 A couple months ago I wrote about the development project Korman Residential had proposed for the Eastwick neighborhood in southwestern Philadelphia. Since the story was published, Eastwick residents have continued to fight against Korman, asking their councilman, Kenyatta Johnson, to pull his support from the project.

And, finally, it seems the Councilman has heard them. Last night, at a public community meeting, the Councilman announced he will be withdrawing the bill to rezone the 35 acres from single family homes to multi-family. This action effectively kills Korman’s plans for redevelopment. Without rezoning the area, Korman is unable to build their proposed 51-buliding complex with 722 rental apartments.

“You should’ve been at the table foremost,” said the Councilman, whose announcement was met with a standing ovation. “Those who live in the community have the most powerful authority at the end of the day.”

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