Land Bank May Take 163+ Properties

Grand Rapids might help group circumvent state law

On the morning of Tuesday, June 18, the Grand Rapids City Commission will consider transferring 163 or more properties to the Kent County Land Bank. These properties will not go to tax auction, where private individuals could bid on them.

If city commissioners approve this resolution, they will be helping the Kent County Land Bank circumvent state law, which forbids land banks from acquiring property prior to tax auction. Moreover, the land bank will have the ability to choose who can or cannot purchase these properties.

This move will cost taxpayers. If the properties were to go to tax auction, private bidders would bid up the price, assuring Kent County more sales revenue than the price the land bank will pay. 

Though the resolution calls for the land bank to complete redevelopment, repurpose, or resale within 18 months of acquiring the new properties, there are no assurances. By acquiring these properties, the land bank is placing Kent County taxpayers at risk: Plans fall through, and development costs money.

It is likely that the land bank will not be able to sell all 163 properties in just 18 months.  In contrast, the vast majority of these properties would likely sell at tax auction, with private developers and individuals bearing the costs and risks of development. 

The text of the resolution the Grand Rapids City Commission will consider and the full list of properties the land bank may acquire is available here.