The land bank is supposed to help Chicago and the suburbs take vacant or neglected property and make it productive or at least a community asset. It would acquire property, get rid of back taxes and liens and make it fit for a responsible buyer.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Commissioner Bridget Gainer (D-10th) have pushed the land bank from idea toward inception. With an eye on successful land banks in other locales, they are working with a volunteer board that is preparing the operation for launch.

It’s a new public agency but real estate is its business. Can it be nimble and smart enough for a market that has humbled developers and left homeowners upside-down on their mortgages?

“This is going to be a dicey proposition,” Preckwinkle said. “It’s going to take a lot of work and effort and not a little luck to make it happen. We hope that it’s going to be self-sustaining in the third year or so.”


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