The Kalamazoo County Land Bank was founded in 2010 as a quasi-governmental agency that is independent from Kalamazoo County, but works closely with this and other municipalities in the county to take tax-foreclosed, blighted, and underutilized properties and get them back to active use, back on the tax rolls, and transform them into neighborhood assets.
The KCLB was part of a wave of land banks that formed across the State of Michigan in the wake of the housing crisis that hit Midwestern cities particularly hard. Kalamazoo was facing a mounting problem of vacant and blighted parcels that were a drag on the resources of local government, who were not equipped to transform blighted spaces. Before land banks came into popular use in Michigan, houses in challenged neighborhoods would undergo tax foreclosure, were put up for auction and were often purchased by speculators who didn’t invest in fixing up the properties, which would then cycle back through the foreclosure process in a few years in even worse condition than they started. The Land Bank stepped into this gap, pulling together the expertise and resources to deal with blighted properties and breaking the cycle of decline and blight seen throughout Kalamazoo’s struggling neighborhoods.
We’ve evolved from our beginnings, and are hard at work utilizing a variety of tools and resources, programs, and partners to repurpose, renew and reconnect vacant spaces in Kalamazoo.