If you've read this blog over the past two days, you know a great deal about the Land Reutilization Authority. That's the agency that owns City properties that have been abandoned by their owners. LRA's inventory of property formerly on the tax rolls consists of thousands of small vacant lots and hundreds of buildings in various states of disrepair (and potential!).
It is LRA's overall mission to hold properties until they can be returned to the tax rolls. However, its mission is refined by the instruction that it must act to ensure the long-term stability and prosperity of the neighborhoods in which these properties are located. This mission has resulted in significant policy changes at LRA over past decade.
Turning LRA properties over to private owners who do not maintain them is not in the best interests of anyone, in particular the taxpayers. That's why LRA staff and the LRA Board now set high standards of disclosure for the purchasers of its properties and why LRA now retains the right to reclaim a property from purchasers whose projects stall or fail.
In situations where LRA believes a property has development potential but that development is not imminent, LRA enters into "garden leases'? with adjoining property owners. These "garden leases'? allow the adjacent owners to control the property for the duration of the lease, which is renewed on an annual basis if no development is imminent.
As a result of avoiding the sale of individual lots when LRA and the aldermen believed that a particular block had great potential, several major development initiatives are now complete or in progress. Guardian Angel Settlement House has completed the construction of a major new day care facility (with other services) on Vandeventer between Cook and Finney, and Alderman Terry Kennedy and Alderwoman Marlene Davis are collaborating on an initiative to redevelop the area between Vandeventer and Sarah, Cook and West Belle with new rental and for-sale homes, both affordable and market rate, as well as commercial space to recreate the Sarah-Finney commercial district. In Alderman Frank Williamson's ward, many new homes have been developed on Enright, Cates and Clemens, and more are in progress. In Alderwoman April Ford Griffin's ward, many new homes have also been developed south and east of St. Louis Avenue and Rauschenbach, and both new construction and rehabilitation development is currently in progress. In Alderman Jeffrey Boyd's ward, the Arlington Grove development will soon rehabilitate a very deteriorated historic school building and surround it with newly constructed homes.
None of these new developments ' or others would not be possible if LRA did not thoughtfully administer the land parcels under its control with a vision for the best possible bright future for our neighborhoods. That's why LRA has the policies it has.