New Park Forest Properties in Land Bank

Two houses for sale by Land Bank
247 and 249 Sauk Trail were recently transferred to the South Suburban Land Bank (Photo: John Hudzik)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Village of Park Forest recently transferred 17 properties to the South Suburban Land Bank and Development Authority (SSLBDA) in hopes of rehabilitation and new owners.

All of these properties have been vacant for years and the village worked through the court system to have the properties declared abandoned and secure the title to the land and structure. The village then transferred the deed to the Land Bank. The entire process can take 3 to 6 months.

If the property needs immediate work, the Land Bank will hire a contractor to make the property more accessible. The Land Bank will collaborate with local realtors to find new owners who are willing to invest the time and money to bring these properties up to code. Since most of these houses have been vacant for many years, significant repairs are typically required.

As reported by eNews Park Forest in August, the village sold 24 houses through the Land Bank since 2013 including the latest sales of 305 Sioux in June and 147 Nashua in July, 2021.

According to Liz Castaneda, Outreach Manager for the Southland Development Authority, the Land Bank recently experienced a period of management disruption with both the Executive Director and Project Manager resigning within a year. The Southland Development Authority stepped in to provide day to day management of the Land Bank and to help develop a long-term strategy for the organization.

As part of this new direction, the Southland Development Authority recently visited many of the 29 member municipalities to develop a stronger relationship and to explain the goals of the Land Bank. Castaneda expects that additional staff will be added in the coming year, hopefully including a construction inspector who can provide guidance on property viability.

The Land Bank now has a website that provides a list of all the properties available for sale and rehabilitation. Park Forest currently has seventeen properties on the website, including one for sale, one under contract, thirteen houses recently transferred to the Land Bank, and two parcels of land. Below is a list of those properties.

232 Berry StreetResidentialFor sale – realtor assigned
10 Marquette PlaceResidentialUnder contract – realtor assigned
189 Washington StreetResidentialFor sale – realtor assigned
78 Water StreetResidentialNew
247 Farragut StreetResidentialNew
362 Neola StreetResidentialNew
205 Rich RoadResidentialNew
66 Cherry StreetResidentialNew
509 Davis StreetResidentialNew
334 Nokomis StreetResidentialNew
372 Oswego StreetResidentialNew
223 Marquette StreetResidentialNew
232 Early StreetResidentialNew
247 Sauk Trail*ResidentialNew
249 Sauk TrailResidentialNew
130 Warwick StreetLand ParcelNew
316 Niagara StreetLand ParcelNew

*Not currently on SSLBDA website but, per Village officials, will soon be added

More details on the properties, the realtor assigned, and asking price (if determined), can be found on the SSLBDA site. Most of the properties shown on the list above as “new” are still in the initial evaluation stage by the Land Bank.

To assist in the marketing of the house or property, the Land Bank will assign a local realtor. Currently, per Castaneda, there are three realtors who manage residential properties and one who oversees commercial properties. Working with the realtor and the village, the Land Bank assesses the improvements needed and creates a “scope of work,” which the buyer must agree to complete within 12 months.

The homes are typically priced well below the value of comparable properties in the neighborhood because of the expense and time needed to complete the repairs. Many of the homes are purchased by developers who purchase and renovate the property for subsequent sale or rent.

Occasionally, after a thorough review of the property, the Land Bank will determine that the structure needs too much work to restore the house to a livable condition and will work with the village for demolition. Per Hildy Kingma, the former Park Forest Director of Economic Development, this was the case for the former house at 316 Niagara which is now a vacant land parcel.

Once any past due water bills are remitted to the village (up to $750), and the realtor fees paid, the SSLBDA retains the balance of the property sale to help fund future renovations and other Land Bank expenses. The village benefits from fewer abandoned properties, additions to the tax rolls, and new residents with a personal stake in maintaining their property.

Castaneda stresses that while the personnel managing the Land Bank may have changed, the mission of the Land Bank remains the same and it can be a powerful tool for economic development, revitalization, and community stabilization.

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