An Albany County Land Bank program that offers vacant lots for $100 is returning for the month of June in an expanded form.
It’s “Round Two” of the “Spend a Little, Get a LOT!” program, designed to increase opportunities for residents to own vacant lots and stabilize distressed neighborhoods. This year, 32 vacant lots will be available for $100 each.
Adam Zaranko, Executive Director of the Albany County Land Bank, says one of the program’s core goals is to make property more affordable to people who've already invested in their block. "We're accepting applications from several different types of candidates, folks who live immediately adjacent to the participating lots. Folks who own property on the blockspace, and this year, the big addition is people who rent on the blockspace as well for five or more years. And this year, as we heard an overwhelming interest from renters, from our program last year, which was our pilot program, we wanna be responsive to community feedback. Census data shows that the majority of housing units in the focus areas, focus neighborhoods, neighborhoods that we're focusing on for this program is actually renters who have been living in their buildings for three or more years so we are kinda using a data-driven and community feedback-driven approach."
The lots are located in the Land Bank’s Focus Neighborhoods, which are among the most economically distressed in Albany County, like Arbor Hill, Sheridan Hollow, South End, West End and West Hill in Albany. Charlotte O'Connor is the Land Bank’s neighborhood planning and program coordinator. "I've looked strategically at our inventory to kind of identify the lots that would be best-fitting for this program. Some of them are buildable. We're hoping that down the road someone may want to develop them, but if not then added greenspace is always good for the community."
Zaranko says new landowners will be able to do anything city code rules and regulations allow. "So if a tiny house is allowed under zoning, they're welcome to, and we hope down the road that these lots become developed, and this is one way to help create wealth for folks that don't have access to traditional real estate purchases, especially in their own neighborhood."
About half the lots for sale in the program’s maiden run were sold. O’Connor has higher hopes this time around: “Last year we had a ton of interest and the phone was ringing pretty much off the hook from the announcement, so we’re hoping that we get the same amount of response and we can help get the lots into the hands of the people that actually live near them and want to do something great with them.”
Zaranko adds there are closing costs associated with the purchase, reduced by about a half, so an interested party would be able to acquire a lot for under $1,000 total.
Applications will be accepted between June 1st and June 30th.