Land Banking: The Latest Urban Panacea?

According to the New York times, land banking is the latest urban panacea and this time, Philadelphia be the place. See John Hurdle, Philadelphia Forges Plan to Rebuild From Decay, N.Y. Times, January 1, 2014, at p. B1. Click here

Naturally, there are problems. “[N]ot all land banks have succeeded. Critics are concerned about a provision in the ordinance creating the Philadelphia Land Bank that requires City Council approval for all sales, saying that could delay the disposal of properties and bog down redevelopment. An early land bank in Cleveland failed, for example, because it required legislators to sign off on all acquisitions and dispositions . . .”  So the success of this scheme “will depend on the health and strength of the city’s real estate market.” Rots of ruck with that one, guys.

We scoff because the problem has been that over a period of a half-century or so, lots of folks in Philadelphia, Cleveland and other declining cities up and left for the suburbs. So now, when they have been nicely settled down in suburbia, with more lucrative and more agreeable surroundings and safer, better schools,  for a couple of generations, what would make them suddenly up and sell their suburban homes and head back to cities that are still down at the heels or worse, and that do not provide a hospitable environment for families with children? See Joel Kotkin & Ali Mondares, The Childless City, City Journal, Summer 2013, Vol. 23, No. 3.