ALLEN COUNTY — The Allen County Land Bank has begun working with the Allen Economic Development Group to sell commercial properties with delinquent taxes to potential investors.
The move expands the original functionality of the land bank — which was created to acquire over 200 delinquent residential properties, demolish condemned housing and make the lots available to the public — into the area of business development.
The new role allows the two groups to work in tandem to ensure that commercial properties with delinquent taxes will be able to find a business developer with investment plans in that property.
The land bank has already transferred one commercial property, 330 N. Central Ave., the former location of JM Co. Wholesale Grocery, to a local developer. Administrator Rachael Gilroy said another five or six parcels will be considered next month.
“The involvement with AEDG is so important to make sure folks are interested in the properties. It’s not the land bank’s desire to be a landlord, or to keep them,” Gilroy said.
Categorized as a quasi-governmental nonprofit, the land bank was originally created through federal grant dollars. Once those funds dry up, it will be able to use the sale of the properties to keep its functions supported.
Investors don’t receive the property for free, Gilroy said. Business investors would most likely purchase the property at a price lower than what the market might dictate, but stipulations would be made through the transfer’s contract to ensure that any proposed business investments happen.
Gilroy receives no pay for her position as the land bank administrator. Instead, she originally got the job due to her position as the Allen County Treasurer, who is required to be on the organization’s board. If her campaign for Allen County Auditor is successful, the new Allen County Treasurer would take her seat on the board, but she would remain as administrator.
The land bank has no legal power to acquire properties if a property owner starts paying back the delinquent taxes.
Allen County Commissioner Jay Begg, who sits on the land bank’s board, said shifting the land bank into commercial property transfers could result in two potential outcomes — either more business for the county or a return in delinquent taxes.
“It’s a way of being a little bit more aggressive to get the ball rolling,” Begg said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.