ALBANY — Although it’s been in existence less than three years, the Albany/Dougherty Land Bank has been active throughout the city and county in its mission to improve neighborhoods.
“The primary purpose is to return tax-delinquent, unproductive properties to productive use,” Paul Forgey, director of Planning and Development Services for the city of Albany and Dougherty County, said.
In giving a report to Albany City Commission on Tuesday, Forgey, who also serves as executive director of the land bank, discussed some of the accomplishments from the previous two years. Among the accomplishments cited was the acquisition of five houses damaged by a tornado in the Radium Springs area.
Of those five, four have been demolished and the land they were on cleared, and the land bank is looking to sell the remaining residence.
The house there was deemed worthy of restoration and is not below flood level, Forgey said.
Since January 2018, the land bank has processed more than 50 applications requesting acquisition, acquired six properties in a target area for redevelopment and received one through donation.
The hope is that a law enforcement officer will rehabilitate and move into the donated 612 Lincoln Ave. residence, Forgey said.
The land bank encourages city and county employees to apply for available properties to encourage homeownership. Among recent activities are the purchase of 4705 Saville Lane by the owner of a residence next door. The owner acquired it through the side-lot program that gives property owners the opportunity to acquire an adjacent property to expand their yard or redevelop the land.
At 2506 Bridgeboro Drive, a developer was able to purchase the lot and will demolish the house there destroyed in a 2017 tornado to place a rental mobile home.
With a budget of $116,000, the land bank is funded by the city of Albany and Dougherty County, and the Dougherty County School Board also participates in the program, Forgey said.
In some cases, blighted properties on which owners are in arrears on property taxes the land bank has acquired are returned to the tax rolls, expanding the tax base.
Last year, “we returned $40,000 in property tax revenue,” Forgey said.