Land banking and the largest property owner in St. Louis (the Land Reutilization Authority)

This is an article originally aired on STL public radio in 2016 regarding abandoned buildings and vacant lots. The article highlights how the St Louis Land Reutilization Authority came to be the largest landowners in the city and highlights some of the challenges the agency has faced. The main point of the article is to highlight new strategies for using/dealing with vacant land. These strategies include selling lots to adjacent residents for a price of a low dollar amount and 2 years of maintaining the land (like an urban homestead act) and creating tree farms and other green infrastructure projects on vacant lots. Additionally the articles discusses efforts made to manage LRA holdings more effectively, including  increase funding for demolishing abandoned buildings that affect property values, utilize AmeriCorps volunteers to gather better data about the land within the agency’s ownership.

Land banking - the practice of aggregating land parcels for future sale or development and/or converting vacant/abandoned lots into “productive” property. St. Louis has the oldest land bank in the country (created by a Missouri state statute in 1971), with the land acquired when property owners fail to pay taxes for 3 years OR a parcel fails to sell in public tax foreclosure sales. A document on land banking from the Center for Community Progress:

--perhaps interesting to think of this as an urban form of public lands? Seems like it is ripe for all kinds of similar multiple interpretations of what it means for a gov’t entities to own something, whether it is labeled public, whether it viewed as land meant to be for the benefit of all, etc.


Land Reutilization Authority(LRA) - is the largest landowner in the city! Although it is a city-level entity, it was created by the Missouri legislature, so any changes have to be approved by state lawmakers.

Otis Williams, the executive director of the St. Louis Development Corporation, which acts as an umbrella organization for LRA.

Patrick Brown, a deputy chief of staff for Mayor Francis Slay. Brown leads the Vacant Land and Blight Task Force.

Harvard by the Center for Community Progress, a national think tank on vacant land issues

Fresh Coast Capital


Analytic (Question)





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