Announcement: Woodlawn Foundation to close on purchase of first batch of 60 properties from Birmingham Land Bank Authority.
Birmingham, AL – On Friday, Aug. 17, the Woodlawn Foundation will close on 20 properties that were once tax delinquent, overgrown and abandoned in Woodlawn. These are part of 60 Birmingham Land Bank Authority properties the Woodlawn Foundation has identified for purchase to help revitalize the Woodlawn community. Since its inception, the Woodlawn Foundation’s primary real estate strategy has been providing high quality, mixed-income and single-family housing options to Woodlawn residents.
The closings will take place at 3 p.m. at the Woodlawn Foundation, 5529 First Ave. South.
These closings should have taken place in 2016 and 2017. But the closings were delayed because of title insurance industry issues with insuring title on tax delinquent properties. Generally, a title insurance will not issue a policy to a purchaser due to vague law concerning property redemption. Without title insurance, financing for redevelopment or other programming is often non-existent. But thanks to the continued work of the Birmingham Landbank, established in 2014 to help facilitate the revitalization of Birmingham’s 99 neighborhoods and fight blight, Friday’s closing will become a reality.
Land Bank Staff and Lawyers have worked to make sure each property has marketable and insurable title and is eligible for closing. Earlier this year, the Birmingham Land Bank Authority saw its first round of closings with citizens. Friday marks the first major bulk closing with a non-profit partner.
“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Birmingham Land Bank Authority on these properties in Woodlawn,” said Sally Mackin, executive director ofthe Woodlawn Foundation. “Having these properties will give us yet another opportunity to work with our residents to expand the plan that we have been working together on for eight years. We are excited to see what great things come from this.”
Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin said that neighborhood revitalization is what he promisedresidents in each of the city’s 99 neighborhoods. Friday’s closing underscores the city’s ongoing commitment to bringing change to communities.
“My administration is committed to breaking down silos, not only in City Hall, but in the community,’’ Mayor Woodfin said. “We want to continue to seek and collaborate with new partners in the public and private sector in order to foster a neighborhood revitalization approach our citizens deserve.”
Eric Fancher, Administrator of the Birmingham Land Bank Authority, said the city’s connection with the Woodlawn Foundation is a good example of what happens when everyone works together to help empower neighborhoods and its residents.
“Woodlawn Foundation is one of several organizations, including the Housing Authority of Birmingham District, Titusville Development Corporation, Neighborhood Housing Services of Birmingham and the East Lake Initiative, among others, that are active participants in the acquisition process through the Birmingham Land Bank Authority,’’ Fancher said. “We could not do this without the atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation Mayor Woodfin and the city’s Community Development director, Nigel Roberts, have brought to City Hall.”
Here’s how it works:
Several Birmingham abandoned and tax delinquent properties are burdened by a mountain of government fines (tax liens, weed liens, demolition liens, etc.) and/or have clouded titles. Over time, these properties fall into disrepair, causing blight in neighborhoods. Citizens or existing property owners interested in cleaning up the properties are usually unable to do so because of all the fines, which can exceed the value of the home.
Every year, those tax delinquent properties are auctioned off during the Jefferson County Tax Sale. Those that go unsold are sold to the state of Alabama Department of Revenue. Properties that have been delinquent for five years and sold to the state, are eligible for Birmingham Land Bank Authority programs. Once the BLBA acquires the properties, officials work to make the properties available for sale to citizens. Citizens pay the negotiated rate to cover legal fees.
Under local land banking legislation, which was approved in 2014, the Birmingham Land Bank Authority has the ability to acquire tax deeds to these abandoned properties and immediately file actions to clear clouded titles, back taxes and municipal liens on the properties. Once that is done, the properties are made available to Birmingham citizens interested in renovating the property or converting the lot into a community garden/green space or adding to their neighboring property. Before expressing interest in a certain property, citizens must complete an application, saying what they plan to do with the property. They also must pledge to maintain the property. Organizations with goals similar to the Woodlawn Foundation can work with the BLBA under a streamlined process called the Catalytic Development Program. More information can be found at www.birminghamlandbank.org.
NOTE: Nigel Roberts, Sally Mackin and Eric Fancher will be available for interviews on Friday.
For more information about the Birmingham Land Bank, please visit www.birminghamlandbank.org
For more information about the Woodlawn Foundation, please visit www.woodlawnunited.org