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The Land Bank is the critical player in transferring properties to new owners who will return them to productive use, other City agencies play an important role.

Three-quarters of vacant properties in the city are privately owned, and the City of Philadelphia’s property search tool is a good place to start the search for who owns a property in which you might be interested.   Using a community-driven process, the Planning Commission has developed District Plans meant to guide development in neighborhoods throughout the City.

Any plans you might have for a property will either have to conform to existing zoning or receive a zoning variance, all of which is explained by the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The Department of Licenses and Inspections reviews construction plans and issues construction and other permits, and also has a database that contains the permit and violation history of properties in the city.

The Tax Clearance you’ll need to provide to buy a property is available at the Department of Revenue. You can also find the tax status of a property at Revenue (you’ll need to agree to their terms of use first), which is information you’ll need to know if you want to initiate a tax foreclosure sale.

If you are a developer looking to create low- and moderate-income housing, the Office of Housing and Community Development provides funding awarded through an annual Request for Proposals. A source of funding for affordable rental housing is Low Income Housing Tax Credits awarded by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

If you are looking to start a for-profit development company, or are just starting out as one, the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors can be helpful.

If you are looking to start a nonprofit development company or a community development corporation, the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations can be helpful.

The Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation’s FarmPhilly program can offer guidance to those looking to create community gardens or urban agriculture opportunities.

Looking for info on other land banks, or on repurposing vacant land in general? The Center for Community Progress is on it, and has information on land banks and vacant land policies from across the country.

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