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Summit County Land Bank Offers New Program For Commercial Properties

photo of empty commercial property

The Summit County Land Bank has launched a new program that it hopes will keep commercial properties from sliding toward blight and into demolition.

The land bank's Building for Business program is aimed at people who want to re-purpose old buildings for mixed-use or even into residences.

Executive Director Patrick Bravo says -- unlike their acquisition of blighted homes – the land bank, in this case, will work with people who have a demonstrated ability to get a project done.

“An applicant that has applied for the property and been approved and made any necessary down payments, because we don’t want to be stuck with the property either. That’s probably one of the largest differences is that it really is demand-driven on this side.”

Bravo says that’s a more proactive approach that can save a building, and they’re already exploring that on the residential side.

“We’ve been very fortunate to receive very generous grant funding for blight removal to work with residential property -- but that means demolition. We haven’t received a lot of funding for commercial and industrial property. So this is one way that we’re trying to approach commercial and industrial properties and see if we can re-purpose them before they get to the point where they need to be demolished.”

Bravo adds that the land bank will work with potential buyers to sort through county property records and deeds, and also to conduct environmental assessments of properties before a sale goes through.

He says the Building for Business program has already gotten applications for a building near the University of Akron, and another in Highland Square that would flip from commercial to residential.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.