Article IV. Acquisition of Properties

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Section 4.01 General Considerations

  1. In keeping with its mission and not intending to be the long-term holder of property without end use, as well as the budgetary guidelines set forth in the Ordinance, the adequate maintenance of the PLB’s existing portfolio of property shall take priority over new acquisition in any given budget year. Upon ensuring the adequate maintenance of its existing portfolio, the PLB may elect to acquire new properties per its annual strategic priorities with its remaining budgetary resources.
  2. The PLB may acquire vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent property to further its mission. In determining whether to acquire a property, the PLB will target those properties that meet one or more of the following criteria:
    • There is a qualified end user committed to purchasing and returning the property to productive use;
    • There is a prospective end user, neighborhood resident, local governmental entity, community stakeholder, or other interested party who has requested that the PLB review the property for acquisition;
    • The redevelopment of the property will support strategic development efforts, is likely to act as catalyst for further development, or is part of a comprehensive development plan;
    • Acquisition will support public infrastructure, green space development, or storm water management;
    • Acquisition will help stabilize or improve neighborhood conditions by reducing blight;
    • Acquisition will help create or preserve homeownership opportunities;
    • There is an existing market for the property, but title issues prevent the property from being developed to its highest and best use;
    • Acquisition of the property will further the PLB’s mission and the PLB has the resources to maintain and market the property.

Section 4.02. Pre-Acquisition Considerations

  1. The PLB should consult with City Agencies, specifically the Pittsburgh Department of City Planning, to follow parcel categorization and any zoning, citywide or Accepted or Adopted Plans, when identifying which parcels to acquire.
  2. The PLB will assess the condition, marketability, potential holding and maintenance costs, and possible end users of every property prior to acquisition. When possible, the PLB will conduct a complete condition assessment of all structures prior to acquisition.
  3. Prior to acquisition, the PLB will ensure that it has available funds to hold and maintain the property for an extended ownership period of no less-than three (3) years.
  4. The PLB shall strive for clear, insurable, and marketable title across its entire inventory. As such, the PLB may only acquire property:
    • That already has clear and marketable title; or
    • Whose title issues can be resolved given the particular powers specifically available to Pennsylvania land banks like expedited quiet title and discharge of tax liens and municipal claims in accordance with the Act; or
    • At the discretion of the PLB staff and Board under special circumstances.
  5. Environmental Consideration. The PLB will not take title to or have any work performed on Real Property that has or is likely to have environmental contamination without:
    • Obtaining a Phase I environmental assessment;
    • Prior approval of the Board of Directors; and
    • Prior or funded environmental remediation rendering the site clean and free from contamination.
  6. Notwithstanding section 4.02(E), the PLB may acquire Real Property with known or likely environmental contamination as a pass-through entity if:
    • The Qualified End User agrees to fully indemnify the PLB for all liability stemming from environmental contamination on the commercial property; and
    • The Qualified End User agrees to remediate existing environmental contamination to acceptable standards as a condition of the development agreement.
  7. If a property is in a local historic district, the PLB will endeavor to communicate with the appropriate historic commission to determine potential disposition options prior to acquisition.
  8. Prospective end users, community stakeholders, or other interested parties may submit a Request for Investigation to the PLB. The PLB may elect to assess properties brought to its attention under a Request for Investigation for potential acquisition provided it has the resources to do so.
  9. The PLB will participate and coordinate with City Agencies in the land recycling and management system on the development of guidelines for its acquisition and banking of properties under special status on behalf of community development corporations for specific community based projects, including alignment with the anticipated forthcoming adoption of City policy regarding Registered Community Organizations. PLB will advance best practices drawn from the Pittsburgh Property Reserve.

Section 4.03. Post-Acquisition Considerations

  1. Upon acquiring any property with a structure, the PLB will conduct a complete condition assessment if one has not already been conducted, secure the property, add the property to its maintenance schedule, and prepare a marketability assessment for the property.
  2. As soon as practical following acquisition, the PLB will move forward with property disposition, demolition, or marketing following acquisition.
  3. Upon acquiring a property, the PLB will make its ownership known to the public. If the PLB has been in contact with a prospective end user, neighbor, community based organization, or other interested party prior to acquisition, it will communicate its ownership of the property to the interested party or parties.
  4. The PLB shall make short-term temporary licenses available to prospective purchasers for pre-development testing and planning, provided the licensee returns the property to its original state at the completion of said license.

Section 4.04 Acquisition through Tax Foreclosure

  1. The Land Bank may bid on and acquire title to Real Property in judicial and non-judicial delinquent tax enforcement proceedings (“Tax Sales”), as determined to be the most efficient and effective method, in accordance with
    • Judicial: Section 2117(d) of the Act entitled, procedure relating to the act of May 16, 1923 (P.L. 207, No. 153) known as the Municipal Claims and Tax Lien Law and codified at Title 53 P.S. §7101 et seq. of Purdon’s Pennsylvania Statutes and any successor law, (“MCTLL”); OR
    • Non-Judicial: Section 2117(e) of the Act, procedure relating to the act of October 11, 1984 (P.L.876, No.171), known as the Second Class City Treasurer's Sale and Collection Act (“Treasurer’s Sale”), or other such general, special or local laws as may be applicable.
  2. With regard to the Treasurer’s Sale, PLB shall enter into an agreement with the City and City Agencies that fulfills the Act’s Sections 2117(e)(2)(i) and (e)(1) required agreements and proceed in accordance with the Three Taxing Bodies Agreement dated November 30, 1992, as amended.
  3. With regard to MCTLL, PLB and Tax/Municipal Claim Jurisdictions, initially the City, County and Pittsburgh School District, shall enter into an ICA that fulfills the Act’s Sections 2117(d)(2)(i) and (e)(1) required agreements.
  4. PLB representatives will meet regularly with the City’s Finance Department and representatives of the third party tax collector, to strategically coordinate acquisitions with the combined delinquent claims enforcement ICA and related agreements as well as with the Act’s and MCTLL’s delinquent tax enforcement procedures and acquisitions at tax sale.
  5. Upon acquisition after tax foreclosure, the PLB will coordinate with the City Real Estate Division and City Law Department for the satisfaction of divested delinquent taxes, assessments, charges, penalties, and interest, and for tax exempt status of the property for the entire period the PLB owns the property.

Section 4.05 Acquisition through Donation

  1. The PLB may acquire property or rights or interests in property that is tax delinquent by donation, gift, or devise. Any such acquisition shall be in accordance with MCTLL procedures for donations of tax delinquent properties and extinguishment of delinquent claims for taxes, and with any ICA(s) required to implement such MCTLL procedures.
  2. The PLB may also acquire property or rights or interests in property that is not tax delinquent by donation, gift, or devise. PLB shall make reasonable efforts to follow the procedures set forth in Section 4.02 for any such acquisitions.
  3. If requested by a donor of property, the PLB, as an eligible charitable organization, will acknowledge a donation. The donor will be solely responsible for reporting and determining the value of any property donated to the PLB.
  4. If a private property owner transfers a property to the PLB for land assembly, the PLB will have the right, but not the obligation, to maintain, repair, demolish, clean, and grade the property and perform all other tasks and services regarding the property that the PLB determines are necessary.

Section 4.06 Acquisition through Purchase

The PLB may acquire a property through purchase if no other means of acquisition is available and acquiring the property is a priority.