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Syracuse Land Bank Marks 5th Anniv. With Bus Tour Showcasing Progress

Bridget McAllister

It’s been five years since the creation of the Greater Syracuse Land Bank, and Tuesday, officials hosted a bus tour showcasing examples of its efforts to revitalize blighted properties and neighborhoods.  Executive director Katelyn Wright says they can’t do it alone; private investors are the key to their success.

 “We're highlighting some of the positive outcomes of what we're able to do, primarily as a conduit to get abandoned properties into the hands of responsible, local buyers.  We're highlighting some of the nice renovations that have been done.”                       

Out of roughly 1,300 properties, 450 have been sold, generating $80,000 for the city’s property tax rolls.  Some 175 properties have been demolished, with another 300 waiting to go down. But Wright finds that even this can be positive for a neighborhood’s investment and morale.

"When we take a house down, we see right away that neighbors on that street are inspired, they have more confidence in the market value of their own home.  We'll see them out painting, putting a new roof on, making investments they wouldn't have wanted to make if they were still next to a vacant, blighted, eyesore property.”        

The kitchen/laundry area of the rental.


Even vacant land that is deemed inadequate for building can still be useful.  Community gardens like the one at 120 Seward Street provide fresh produce for neighborhoods and teach immigrant residents important skills.  Cornell Agriculture Educator Aaron Ross finds that a garden is great for a neighborhood’s sense of pride and teamwork.

It's a sense of ownership, it's an area that's their garden.  They've gotten together to brainstorm.  It's three different cultures with different viewpoints on things coming together.  The collaboration has been the most fun aspect, and the ownership that goes along with that has been a really cool thing to see grow.”                             

Wright with the land bank adds investors often find that renovating blighted residences leads to lower mortgage rates when compared to renting.  To learn more, visit Syracuse Land Bank .org.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at