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With its board of directors in place and its first program manager hired, the Quad Cities Land Bank Authority is ready to begin reducing blight, creating housing and growing the tax rolls in Moline, Rock Island and East Moline. On Tuesday, Sept. 6, Mary Chappell will take on the job of overall management and operation of the Quad Cities Land Bank Authority. The intergovernmental agency – the ninth of its kind in Illinois – was created in April. The land bank’s mission is to strategically acquire vacant, abandoned, tax delinquent properties, address title liabilities, and clear the way for revitalization of those properties so they can be returned to productive uses consistent with local government plans and priorities. A board of directors was established to guide the authority in its work, the organization said in a news release. Board members are: Chairman Miles Brainard, Rock Island community and economic development director; Vice-Chair K.J. Whitley, Moline community development manager, and Secretary/Treasurer Annaka Whiting, East Moline’s finance director. “The process of establishing the land bank has taken nearly a year, but it has been well worth the wait,” Mr. Brainard told the QCBJ on Thursday, Sept. 1. “The participating communities have put together a model which we think will provide long-term sustainability as well as positive results.” The authority will use grants from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and money contributed by the three cities to cover startup costs, including the program manager’s hiring. As its first program director, the board chose Ms. Chappell, a Quad Citian who boasts more than 23 years of experience in community development in both the public and nonprofit sectors in the Quad Cities. Mr. Brainard called it “a major win to bring onboard a professional with the talents and experience of Mary Chappell as our land bank program manager. She will do a fantastic job fleshing out this new role and getting the land bank up to speed.” “Her first order of business will be to put together a game plan for the early days of the land bank. I am eager to see what she comes up with,” Mr. Brainard added. “I am very excited about the new Quad Cities Land Bank Authority,” Ms. Chappell said in the land bank’s release. “I understand the need to stabilize our neighborhoods and communities and the importance of returning vacant or abandoned properties to the tax rolls. I look forward to working with city partners to achieve their goals and to collaborate with various community partners to support their development efforts.” The latter is something she’s well familiar with, including at her most recent job as neighborhood revitalization director for Habitat for Humanity Quad Cities. While there, she has led a new program that focused on supporting the goals of Moline’s Floreciente neighborhood. Prior to that, she spent 15 years with the City of Rock Island’s Community and Economic Development Department. There she was responsible for managing business incentive programs and the city’s real estate holdings. That included working on business expansion and retention as well as addressing vacant and abandoned properties. In addition to managing the Land Bank operations, Ms. Chappell’s duties will include protecting bank assets, ensuring compliance with board directives, preparing and handling legal and highly confidential information, and coordinating with community partners to address and support community goals. The process to form the land bank began when Moline applied for and received the first of two IHDA grants to explore the concept. The city commissioned a feasibility study and began approaching other governments to join the effort. Participating local leaders have stressed that the land bank is not a taxing authority and it will not be levying any new assessments on residents or property owners. Operating funds will come from grants obtained by cities and the land bank as well as from monies raised by selling reclaimed properties. According to the feasibility study commissioned by Moline, the land bank will:
- Develop a common means to identify, acquire, hold and dispose of property.
- Acquire and stabilize properties.
- Develop the capacity for homeowners, local contractors, and small developers to rehab and build new homes.
- Create an opportunity for locally-driven economic development.
- Bring properties back into the tax base as responsible, taxpaying owners.