For all the hype last year over the creation of a land bank, the Philadelphia Land Bank board’s first public meeting Thursday was quite the snoozer.
Gone were the big signs and the yellow t-shirts. In were the bored faces and plain work attire.
Since Mayor Nutter signed the land bank legislation in January —— creating a new quasi-government body whose mission is to return thousands of vacant parcels to productive use —— staff at the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, where the land bank will be housed, has been doing some preliminary work. But the board, an interim one, had not yet had an official meeting.
On Thursday, the interim board selected its officers, unanimously approving Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation executive vice-president Michael Koonce as the board chair and area developer Paul Badger as its vice-chair. A permanent board could be selected in the fall once City Council returns to session.
The interim board also unanimously approved its bylaws and its $4.1 million budget without any questions.
John Carpenter, executive deputy director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority who has been working to get the land bank up and running, gave a progress report, including that the land bank has been incorporated with the state and that a strategic planning contract had been signed with Interface Studios, an urban design and planning firm.
Interface was selected among various applicants to come up with an acquisition, maintenance and disposition plan for the land bank’s vacant properties. Once the land bank is up and running, Philadelphia will be the largest city to have a land bank. Interface is expected to have a first draft by mid-October, officials said Thursday.
About a dozen members of the public attended the meeting. Only one attendee asked about the term of the board members.
The meeting was over in less than 15 minutes. The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 14.
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