A Sign of Hope?
If you recall, earlier this year we published research showing that the city of Saint Louis’ land bank, the Land Reutilization Authority (LRA), frequently refused to sell its vacant land to private individuals. The agency is the the largest landholder in the city, and its statutory mission is to get vacant property back into private, productive use. By refusing to sell property, the LRA appeared to be hindering small-scale growth in the city.
So, I was happily surprised to see at the LRA’s monthly meeting today that the agency did not reject a single offer of the 25 it considered. (The agency did reject half of one man’s offer: He offered to purchase two properties, and the LRA voted to accept his offer for only one of those properties.)
This is big news! During an eight-year period, the LRA rejected more than 42 percent of the offers it formally considered. It now appears that the agency is working to accept or counter more offers to purchase vacant property in the city. In the entire eight years surveyed for our study, there was only one month during which the agency rejected zero offers — and that was after we started taking a close look at the agency’s operations.
The LRA’s lack of rejections this month is just the latest sign that the agency is thinking about ways to improve its operations. In March, the agency accepted more offers than it previously had been accepting, and lowered the price of some of its properties. The agency also tweaked its policy to allow more individuals to purchase side lots.
I hope these changes are all signals that the LRA is working to sell more properties so they can be put back into private, productive use. Accepting and countering more offers is the latest development, and it certainly is a step in the right direction.